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article imageGary Johnson seeking to move from 'obscurity to prominence' in NH

By Michael Krebs     Apr 23, 2011 in Politics
Former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson recently announced his White House Republican candidacy and is seeking to evolve from 'obscurity to prominence' during his visit in New Hampshire.
A new addition to what is predicted to be a crowded Republican presidential candidate field, marathon runner and former two-term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson is determined to step out of anonymity, touring New Hampshire and engaging voters there on the issues.
Mr. Johnson's White House pursuit is seen as a long shot by political observers, but his positions may resonate with American voters. Johnson supports legalized marijuana and gay marriage; he opposes the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan; he is pro-choice; he believes in limited government and would roll out significant tax reform; and he is an optimist on balancing the budget.
"We went to the moon," Johnson told ABC News. "We can balance the budget."
Johnson's Libertarian roots have equated him to the next Ron Paul, however he differs from Paul on the abortion issue and likely on many social issues.
"His positions are rooted in a stringent libertarian philosophy that, unlike many Republicans, extends to social issues as well as economic issues," New York Magazine reported. "Still, it's hard to get tougher on government spending than Johnson: As governor, he earned the nickname 'Governor Veto' for vetoing more bills during his time in office than the other 49 governors combined."
With the backdrop of a horrific drug war raging in neighboring Mexico, the marijuana regulation argument coupled with his appeal to the influential grassroots Tea Party movement could certainly help him go "from obscurity to prominence" in New Hampshire and nationally.
"In his second term, he came out for legalizing and regulating marijuana. He was the most libertarian governor in America, no contest. He was the Tea Party more than a decade before the idea occurred to Rick Santelli," David Weigel profiled in Slate on Wednesday.
Johnson's Libertarian message comes at a time of deep financial crisis, and his appeal may also be found in tackling this crisis head-on.
"All this budget debate here a couple of weeks ago was about less than one penny of the 43 cents that we need to cut from federal spending and it turns out with the budget analysis that it turned out to be less than one one-hundredth of a penny," Johnson told ABC News. A Johnson presidency would look not only at entitlement programs like Medicare and social security but also at defense, a massive line item in the US budget that remains largely untouched by traditional Republicans.
Addressing Congressman Paul Ryan's "Path to Prosperity" plan, Johnson told ABC News: "I think it takes about 8 years to get to a point that is about a quarter of where it should go. It doesn't include defense in the discussion."
Mr. Johnson has 23 months to hone his message and his solutions before the 2012 presidential election, and New Hampshire will likely afford him a compass for the rest of the campaign trail.
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