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Libertarian Gary Johnson Rejects Trump Positions on Immigration, Free Trade

  • Chris Hannas

FILE - Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters and delegates at the National Libertarian Party Convention, in Orlando, Fla.

FILE - Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaks to supporters and delegates at the National Libertarian Party Convention, in Orlando, Fla.

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson said Wednesday he has issues with Republican Donald Trump's positions on immigration and free trade, and will not be resorting to "name-calling" during his campaign.

Johnson spoke along with his running mate in a CNN town hall event, the type of national platform that is common for Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton but rare for a third party like the Libertarians.

The party is in some ways a hybrid of the two that dominate U.S. politics, and with polls showing large numbers of potential voters holding negative views of the Trump and Clinton, Johnson is looking to be an alternative on November 8.

"Fiscally conservative, socially accepting, tolerant. Look, people should be able to make choices in their own lives," he said when asked to explain his party. "From a military intervention standpoint, we're not isolationists in any way whatsoever, but we're non-interventionist. We don't want to get involved in other countries' affairs."

Johnson said Trump's proposal to build a wall across the U.S.-Mexican border "borders on insanity." He also advocated making it "as easy as possible" for those who want to come to the United States to work to get a work visa with a background check and a Social Security card that ensures they pay taxes.

"They are not taking jobs that U.S. citizens want," he said. "They are hardworking individuals. The reason for the 11 million illegal immigrants is because there are jobs that exist in this country and they can't get across the border legally, so they cross illegally."

Weld criticized Trump's suggestion in April that Japan and South Korea should have nuclear weapons and his frequent promises to change economic relationships with China and Mexico.

FILE - Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Pittsburgh, June 11, 2016.

FILE - Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Pittsburgh, June 11, 2016.

“The notion of having Japan and South Korea have access to nuclear weapons is crazy in a world when nuclear proliferation is the number one threat to the security of the world," Weld said. "The notion that he’s going to impose huge penalties on Mexico and China at will violates our obligations under treaties and international agreements like the World Trade Organization. You cannot be president of the United States and talk like that.”

Johnson also distanced himself from Trump's charge that Clinton is corrupt, saying "That is not a view that I would embrace."

While the Libertarians enjoyed national exposure with Wednesday's event, they still face a challenge in getting an equal place with the Democrats and Republicans before the election. The important presidential debates that begin in September require a candidate to have 15 percent support in five national polls in order to participate.

A CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday showed Clinton with the support of 42 percent of registered voters, Trump with 38 percent, Johnson with 9 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein with 7 percent. A Monmouth University poll had a similar spread.

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