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Gary Johnson, Libertarian Candidate For President, Holds Phoenix Rally

By Stina Sieg
Published: Saturday, October 1, 2016 - 9:22pm
Updated: Saturday, October 1, 2016 - 11:34pm
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(Photo by Stina Sieg - KJZZ)
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson was in Phoenix Saturday afternoon. Staff at the Phoenix Airport Marriott estimate between 800 and 1,000 people attended.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate for president, was in Phoenix Saturday afternoon. The event was packed, but came on the heels of well publicized gaffes by the candidate.

From the very beginning of the rally — in a crowded ballroom at an airport hotel — Gary Johnson did not shy away from his recent missteps. 

“Three days after not being able to name a foreign leader that I admired, I still haven’t come to grips with that,” he said, chucking lightly as the crowd applauded him.

Johnson talked about a question he was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. Three weeks before, he had a similar stumble when he appeared not to know what Aleppo — the war-ravaged Syrian city — is.

Johnson was open about these gaffes, He said it’s important to acknowledge mistakes in order to fix them. For most of the speech, Johnson focused on how he’d be frugal as president. He’d like to abolish certain federal departments, cut military spending and bring a free-market approach to healthcare and education.

He also told the crowd: “Let’s bring an end to the war on drugs, and it starts by legalizing marijuana.”

The applause was huge for that one.

Johnson spoke glowingly about his running mate, Bill Weld, but did not address that Weld recently said Hillary Clinton might be the “most qualified candidate” for president. However, Emily Stonham, a former Republican, said Johnson hit on the key issues she thinks most people want to hear about.

“And hopefully, a lot of people that haven’t heard of Gary Johnson, aren’t familiar with him, hopefully that gets them enough that they’ll go out there, and say, Google Gary Johnson and find out more about his issues and what he stands for,” Stonham said.

While Johnson is badly trailing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, some polls show he does have strong support among millennials and members of the military.