Libertarian Gary Johnson was in Chicago Friday to talk foreign policy at the University of Chicago. Progress Illinois provides highlights from the event, including Johnson's emphatic response to a question about his recent gaffes.
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson was at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics Friday afternoon to talk foreign policy. He addressed his gaffes -- including his "What is Aleppo?" comment and his inability to name his favorite foreign leader -- and whether the flubs undermine his credibility.
"Here's the point of that, OK?," Johnson said emphatically during the audience Q & A. "Because you can dot the I's and cross the T's on names of foreign leaders or geographic locations, then that qualifies you to put the military in a situation where the military is dying?
"We've got military personnel that are dying, they're getting hurt, they're getting maimed for the rest of their lives. They're getting psychologically damaged for the rest of their lives because we put them in a situation of a crossfire. And in that crossfire there are hundreds of thousands of people dying in these countries," he stressed, with his voice growing louder.
"So if that's the qualification to be president, dotting the I's and crossing the T's on the names of foreign leaders and geographic locations and because that's the quality that you have to possess, well just count on the military policies of this country continuing as they've been for the last 15 years going forward," Johnson said.
During his foreign policy speech, Johnson explained his Libertarian views on military interventions.
"The best word to describe my approach to military interventions abroad is that I am a skeptic," he said. "As president, I would not need to be talked out of dropping bombs and sending young men and women into harm's way. Rather, I would be the president who would have to be convinced it is absolutely necessary to protect the American people or clear U.S. interests. I will be the skeptic in the room."
Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, also unloaded on Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump over his stance on immigration.
"For me, coming from New Mexico where New Mexico has the highest percentage Hispanic population of all 50 states, I have to tell you that what he is saying regarding immigration is just completely off the mark -- totally off the mark," Johnson told reporters after the U of C event. "It's a lie. Building a fence across the border is wacko.
"How is the crackdown of 11 million undocumented workers going to work in New Mexico where every other household is Hispanic?" he continued. "It's gonna be a knock on the door, and check for papers and [a] U.S. citizen that doesn't have papers, what's gonna happen? Detainment at that point? I mean, this is horrible.
"And when he says that they're taking jobs from U.S. citizens, that is not the case. When he calls them murderers and rapists, they are not murderers and rapists. Statistically, they are more law abiding than U.S. citizens," Johnson concluded.
Speaking before the U of C crowd, Johnson played up his support among young people. A national Quinnipiac poll from September 14 showed Clinton with 31 percent and Johnson with 29 percent support among likely voters aged 18 to 34 -- up from 16 percent in August. The September 14 survey of 960 likely voters nationwide had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
The latest national Quinnipiac poll from Friday, however, showed Johnson's support among likely voters aged 18 to 34 had dropped to 11 percent, while Clinton's increased to 48 percent.
Johnson told the U of C crowd that he's "taking great pride in the fact that I had just tied Hillary Clinton for the lead among young people, and have come from nowhere, really, to tie for that lead. So the portend, really, is that maybe a demographic that I will get more votes than anyone else."
But at least one political group is hoping to discourage young people, namely those who supported Bernie Sanders, from backing Johnson over "concerns that Millennial support for third party candidates could play spoiler in the 2016 election."
The Democratic Coalition Against Trump released an attack ad Thursday against Johnson. The spot is aimed at highlighting "many of Johnson's ultra-conservative and, in the case of global warming, bizarre views in an attempt to dissuade young Bernie Sanders supporters from voting for Johnson."
Here's the full-length ad:
"Any Bernie supporter who watches this video and still plans to vote for Johnson was never a real Bernie supporter," the Democratic Coalition Against Trump's Executive Director Nate Lerner said in a statement. "I know that's blunt, but Millennials respond best to authenticity and straight talk. That's partially why they were drawn to Bernie and why our ad doesn't rely on any gimmicks or trickery. It's just Johnson in his own words, with some minor bells and whistles for effect."
After the U of C talk, Johnson said he and Sanders agree on many issues.
"I took the 'I Side With' quiz when it came to Bernie and agreed with Bernie on 73 percent of what he had to say," Johnson said. "We come to a T in the road when it comes to economics but what I'm wondering is are ... young people really looking for equal opportunity? And if they are, something that is achievable, I'm your guy."