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Libertarian Johnson Brings Campaign to Liberty University

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson campaigned at Liberty University Monday, telling students not to vote for “somebody you don’t believe in.”


Johnson’s speech before a capacity crowd at the Lynchburg, Virginia, University was part of a daylong campaign swing Johnson made through the state. Liberty' president, Jerry Falwell, Jr., is an outspoken supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.


Johnson was the latest in a growing list of presidential contenders to speak at the school.


Texas Sen. Ted Cruz declared his run for the GOP nomination at Liberty in 2015, and just a week ago, Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence addressed the student body.


The mostly evangelical crowd gave Johnson a friendly reception, but was cool to his views on abortion rights and religious liberty.

However, Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in his opening remarks that former Libertarian presidential nominee Ron Paul won the school’s voting precinct in the 2012 GOP primary contest against Mitt Romney.


Johnson sought to distinguish himself from the major party candidates, highlighting his background as an entrepreneur and emphasizing the value of honesty.


“Always tell the truth,” Johnson said. “If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”


Johnson’s speech was short on specific policy ideas, but he gave the crowd a broad overview of Libertarian ideas.


Johnson embraced school choice, and criticized the drug war and the national debt.


He also supported changing the Affordable Care Act, which Johnson said was like having “grocery store insurance.”


“I’m going to pick filets every time, because there’s no pricing, and no transparency,” he said.


Johnson said health insurance would cover only catastrophic illness, but not routine medical procedures.


With transparency in pricing, and competition among providers, Johnson said routine procedures would be taken care of at “gall bladders-R-us, or stitches-R-us.”


He also made a pitch for a more liberal immigration program, taking aim at Trump’s pledge to build a wall across the southern U.S. border.


“We should embrace immigration in this country,” Johnson said, and make it “as easy as possible” for immigrants to get work visas.


“Let’s not build a wall across the border,” Johnson said. “We [would] be on the wrong side of history.”


In a short question and answer session after his remarks, Johnson was asked whether voting for a third party candidate such as himself was throwing away a vote.


“Voting for somebody you don’t believe in, that’s throwing away your vote,” Jonson said.


Asked what he would do to lessen racial tension in the country, Johnson said: "The roots of discrimination lie in war on drugs.”


Johnson told the largely evangelical crowd that while he personally is anti-abortion, abortion rights are “the law of the land.”


“Libertarians are all about personal choice, all about personal liberty,” Johnson said.


He said that as governor of New Mexico “I did try to eliminate the funding of Medicaid for abortion."


“That was the recognition that so many people abhor the use of government funds being used for abortion, and I did not find that to be an issue,” Johnson said.


He also said that while he supports religious freedom, many state laws on the topic “are discriminatory against the LGBT community.”


A Christopher Newport University Wason Center poll released Sunday showed Democrat Hillary Clinton leading with 44 percent of the vote in Virginia, with Trump at 29 percent.


Johnson polled 11 percent, a decline of four percentage points since the Center's Sept. 26 survey.


The Sunday poll showed Johnson running strongest in Hampton Roads, which has a high concentration of active and retired military personnel.


Johnson had 20 percent of the vote in that region, in third place behind Clinton, with 42 percent and Trump, with 25 percent.