Charlotte-area voters are already being inundated by presidential campaign ads from the Democratic and Republican parties. But there's a third name on the ballot this fall that few people have heard of. WFAE's Marshall Terry reports on the first North Carolina visit of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
Third party candidates always have a tough climb. Libertarian Gary Johnson is polling at just five percent nationally. But tough climbs are something the former New Mexico governor is used to: in 2003, Johnson scaled Mt. Everest. "The more people listen to his message, put aside party labels and just listen to his message, [the more] this campaign can get the votes necessary," says Johnson's North Carolina campaign director Tim Doran.
Johnson will hold several rallies and fundraisers in the Charlotte area this weekend. Doran says the campaign's primary focus right now is to get the Libertarian onto the national debate stage with his Democratic and Republican rivals. But Johnson needs to have at least 15 percent of voters supporting him in the polls to qualify for those debates. And that's tough to get when you've raised less than one percent of the money your opponents have. So, the campaign has to rely on grassroots.
"Social media, word of mouth, attending meetings. Contacting any groups that have overlapping principles," says Doran.
Johnson calls for cutting taxes, reducing the government's role in the economy, and scaling back on U.S. involvement overseas. And there are the more controversial ideas: abolishing the I.R.S and the Department of Education, and legalizing marijuana.