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Gary Johnson in Cincy: Relishes role of spoiler in presidential race

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson has no chance of winning Ohio — or any other state for that matter — but that has not stopped the former governor of New Mexico from waging a spirited campaign and offering voters an alternative choice beyond Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

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National polls show that Johnson, who will appear on the Ohio ballot as an independent, is likely to get about 5 percent of the vote across the nation. In Ohio, Johnson had been polling in low double-digits around Labor Day but has since fallen to 5.3 percent, according to Real Clear Politics polling average.

Johnson makes no apologies to those who say he is a spoiler, pulling votes from Trump and Clinton.

“I’m really proud of the fact that I’m offering up that principled vote. You might say that everyone who is voting for me might not have gone out to vote in the first place,” Johnson told this newspaper in a one-on-one interview before a rally in Cincinnati on Saturday. “Historically what I’m doing is going to be looked at favorably because I’m of the things that I’m saying and that these are the things that should be said.”

Here is what he is saying the country needs:

Marijuana. Johnson favors legalizing marijuana across the nation. “I do but the reality for the president of the United States is it will be a states’ issue just like alcohol. As president of the United States, I’m pledging to de-schedule marijuana as a class one narcotic, which would resolve banking issues in every state where it is legal, whether that’s medicinal or recreational. And it would also allow for the research that does need to take place that is currently not taking place because it is a class one narcotic.”

Entitlement reform. Johnson wants to raise the eligibility age, apply a means test for Social Security benefits and apply withholding taxes to income above the current $118,000 ceiling. He favors raising the eligibility age for Medicare coverage and giving federal block grants to all 50 states to run Medicaid as they see fit. “I’d like to think my prescription here benefits all of America,” he said. “I’m taking the principled stand that the things that I’m saying are the things that really have to get done.”

Federal taxes. Johnson wants to eliminate the IRS and replace the current tax system with a 28 percent consumption tax. He says he would mitigate the regressive nature of a flat tax by giving every American $2,400 a year to offset the consumption tax.

Military spending. Johnson says he wants to do another round of base closures and find innovative ways to maintain military readiness. He would limit American military involvement to when the U.S. is attacked. Although Ohioans who work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base might be concerned about base closures, Johnson said he would look at what is best for the whole country.

“It’s not an option to do nothing when what’s looming out there is this is runaway. This is a $50 trillion debt in eight years is nothing gets done. You can’t balance the federal budget – this is what I always tell people – you can’t balance the federal budget if you’re not going to address Medicaid and Medicare and military spending. You just can’t do it.”

Johnson described Republican Donald Trump’s allegations that the election is rigged as “nutty.”

And he believes the news about the FBI re-opening its investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails is a possible game changer.

“This Hillary thing. I thought Trump was toast. I have as many problems with Hillary as Trump. But clearly, Trump was his difficulties. This is about as big a bombshell as could be dropped on the election so at this point, the winners are going to be…the Johnson Weld voters,” Johnson said.

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