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CNN "CNN Newsroom" - Transcript

Interview

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GARY JOHNSON (L), N.M.,LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't think there was the opportunity to win. And most importantly, look, I think there needs to be a truth candidate in all of this.

And I would just like to correct you on wanting to cut the military by a third. I think we need to cut military spending by 43 percent. I think we need to cut all of government by 43 percent or we're going to find ourselves in a monetary collapse, the result of borrowing and printing money to the tune of 43 cents out of every dollar that we're spending.

If we don't fix it, we're going to find ourselves without a country. So, big, big issues that both parties, I think, both of the old parties have their heads in the sand over.

BANFIELD: Thank you for the correction. A third to a half is a lot different in terms of military spending. So let me ask you this. I was perusing your website and looking for some of your positions and also for your polling. And I was very fascinated to see your list of polling in states like -- in states like New Mexico and Arizona and Colorado, New Hampshire and Montana.

In New Mexico you're polling at 13 percent, in Arizona 9 percent, Colorado 7 percent, 7 percent also in New Hampshire, 8 percent in Montana, and where you are today, campaigning in Nevada, 3 percent. Those are significant percentages in states that are razor thin.

So my question for you is that are you this campaign's spoiler, meaning you could cost these states going to Mitt Romney?

JOHNSON: Well, actually, in New Mexico, in Colorado, in Nevada I take more votes away from Obama. North Carolina, Michigan, I take more votes away from Romney.

What's most important is that I am a voice representative of fiscal responsibility and social acceptance.

The notion that most of us really do care about civil liberties, the notion that we really do understand that our military interventions have, as a result, the United States being vilified by the rest of the world and that if we don't get our fiscal house in order we're going to collapse. I mean, it's just that simple.

We've lived our entire lives hearing the notion that, at some point, there will be a day of reckoning when it comes to borrowing all the money that we spend beyond what it is that we collect. Well, we're here. This day of reckoning is now, so most important of all, I'm that voice that is actually speaking the truth here.

BANFIELD: So, Governor Johnson, and when you say that there are several states that lean heavily towards you in terms of being a spoiler for Obama, I see in your platform that there are these varying lengths that you swing from. Yes, you're the fiscal conservative but legalizing marijuana is clearly not a conservative campaign platform.

Does that mean that you're more of an equal opportunity spoiler and, thus, you won't have the effect on this election that, say, a Ross Perot may have had or a Ralph Nader may have had, meaning you will get your message out, but you won't necessarily make or break this for either of these candidates?

JOHNSON: Well, we'll end up seeing in the final analysis but, like I say, I think the majority of Americans are fiscally responsible. I think the majority of Americans are socially accepting. Democrats don't do so good on civil liberties. They're supposed to do good on civil liberties. Republicans, they don't do so good on dollars and cents but they're supposed to do good on dollars and cents.

Where are the majority of Americans being represented by either of these two? And I'll just tell you, from my viewpoint, what I'm representing is the fastest growing segment of American politics today, the whole libertarian movement, those that would describe themselves as libertarian that historically don't end up voting libertarian.

We'll see what happens on Election Day, but most important, representing -- providing a voice here that isn't being heard right now.

BANFIELD: So, Governor, the Romney campaign is reporting that they went to quite a length to get you off the ballot in several states; particularly I'm just looking at Pennsylvania. And it just made me wonder, look, I do as much research as I can, but I can't read every single issue that's come out with each party with regard to you.

And I'm wondering if you have been contacted by either the Romney campaign or the Obama campaign or there have been any efforts by the Obama campaign to get you off the ballot or just get you to step aside and walk away quietly?

JOHNSON: Well, the Republican Party has taken a really active role in about 10 states to prevent us from getting on the ballot. You started out by talking about other third party candidates. I'm on the ballot in 49 states, one of those states being Michigan, where I'm officially a write-in. I believe the Green Party is going to be on the ballot in 30 states.

So when you put this into perspective, really, it is Obama, Romney and Johnson that are effectively going to be on the ballot in all 50 states. Oklahoma, for me, where is the onus of shame as far as I'm concerned -- I realize it's not the citizens of Oklahoma but it's the legislature there, legislatures that have passed the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country.

Why is anybody afraid of giving people a choice? And in this case, look, I'm not supposed to be a factor in this race. This is according to the Republicans. For not being a factor, boy, they've sure spent a whole lot of time and resources trying to keep me off the ballot, like I say, in about 10 states.

BANFIELD: And here you are, on the TV, talking to me on CNN.

I have one last question. I'm running out of time, but I have to get you on this one. I heard you say you wouldn't be running if you didn't think there was a chance to win. But many people say polling, where you're polling, your website says 5.3 percent nationwide. There are other polls that put you at about 3 percent. It's a pretty long shot. So if you don't win, do you have a preference between either Mr. Obama or Mr. Romney?

JOHNSON: Well, no, and the opportunity remains that I continue to be a spokesperson here for a movement that ultimately will win the presidency. So there is that out there. Look, my name familiarity right now sits at about 30 percent nationwide.

So given the amount of money that we've spent and given the amount of votes that I get on Election Day, do an analysis. Do the mathematics and I'll bet I'm a 50:1 money better spent on me when it comes to votes actually garnered.

BANFIELD: You are a good politician, sir. I'm going to write that down as neither. Thank you, sir. Thank you so much.

JOHNSON: Neither. Neither.

(CROSSTALK)

BANFIELD: Thank you so much for talking to me.

(LAUGHTER)

BANFIELD: Libertarian presidential candidate speaking to me live today, Gary Johnson. Look forward to seeing more from you.

JOHNSON: Thanks. Thanks.

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