Libertarian Johnson says he is the true Republican
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson says he represents the Republican party rank-and-file better than GOP nominee Donald Trump and argues that the country will realize it if he participates in the first presidential debate next month.
Johnson told CNBC that Trump has tapped into the anger that many Americans feel toward the status quo, but Johnson said, "That is not, in my opinion, representative of the majority of the Republican Party. And where's that representation? Well, I think it's me. I think it's me right now. It's the Libertarian Party. It's a big six-lane highway down the middle that Bill Weld [Johnson's vice presidential running mate] and myself are occupying."
See photos of Gary Johnson through the years
Johnson also said, "I've been a self-declared libertarian since 1971. What was the old saying? That if you weren't a Democrat in college, you didn't have a heart. And if you weren't a Republican in later life, you didn't have a brain. Well, I happen to think 'libertarian' kind of encompasses hearts and brains both. And that's what we are all about. ...This is the demise of the Republican Party. This is an opportunity, I think, for the Libertarian Party to become a major party."
Johnson's positions include a goal of eliminating the income tax and the corporate tax and replacing them with a federal consumption tax; not ending Social Security but reforming it, and legalizing marijuana. He says he is "open to" taxing carbon emissions to slow climate change, which he says is partially human-caused.
A former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, Johnson describes himself as a fiscal conservative, a social liberal and a non-interventionist in foreign policy.
A candidate needs 15 percent support in the polls to qualify for the presidential debates. Johnson is still below this threshold but not that far away. The latest NBC News/Survey Monkey poll, released Tuesday, has Johnson at 11 percent, with Clinton at 43 percent, Trump at 38 and Green Party candidate Jill Stein at 5.
Johnson says his campaign has raised more than $3 million this month from 100,000 donors.