Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson stopped in Parker on Monday evening to cheer Colorado’s legalization of marijuana and make his case for the White House.
The former governor of New Mexico told about 1,200 people at the University of Colorado South Denver campus that 2016 is the perfect year to look beyond the Republican and Democratic parties.
“I agree with Donald Trump on the number one issue he has in his campaign, and I agree with Hillary Clinton on the number one issue that she has on the campaign: Don’t vote for Trump. Don’t vote for Clinton,” Johnson said.
Johnson portrayed himself as the choice for young people and independents in the country, but ultimately he kept in line with the Libertarian Party Platform of individual rights over government power.
“Keep government out of my pocketbook. Keep government out of my bedroom,” Johnson said. “We should be able to make choices in our lives as long as those choices don’t put other people in harm’s way.”
One of the choices Johnson praised was Colorado’s choice to legalize marijuana saying that the state is leading the way to ending the War on Drugs. California’s legalization will likely be the nail in the coffin for law enforcement agencies targeting marijuana users in the country, he said.
“Denver is the most vibrant city in the entire United States. It is amazing,” Johnson said. “I think it’s the legalization of marijuana, but it’s not (just) the legalization of marijuana. It’s that Coloradans are free. We can do what we want here. We can live our lives how we see fit.”
Johnson said he was tired of people attacking him for not “dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s on some geographic locations and some names.”
Despite the slip-ups, a poll Monmouth University released Monday shows 7 percent of Colorado voters are going for Johnson. One of his supporters, Andy Willcox, drove up from Colorado Springs on Monday with his wife and two toddlers.
At the rally, Willcox described himself as a veteran and “refugee from the Republican Party.”
“Conservative options being what they are, it was easy to go for Johnson,” Willcox said. “I cannot with my background bring myself to vote for a pathological liar and maniac oompa loompa.”
Johnson has also been able to pick up supporters from the other side of the aisle. Lakewood resident Kimyana Lee plans to vote Libertarian for the first time this year after supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders earlier this year.
Lee said as a “minority voter” she appreciates Johnson’s ability to talk directly about race and why voters have more than two choices for president. On Monday, Johnson said “black lives matter” and there needs to be a discussion about policing biases in communities of color. The former governor also talked about embracing Mexico as a partner and being sympathetic to immigrants.
Johnson is also courting people, like Mary Lemma of Parker, who are looking for a candidate they can feel at least somewhat excited about voting for in November.
“I find the other two candidates repulsive, quite frankly,” Lemma said. “I’m probably going to go vote for Johnson, just because I can’t not vote.”