Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson finally got to be in a presidential debate with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney -- thanks to some creative video editing and humor on the part of his campaign.
Johnson's campaign on Wednesday released an 8-minute video clip of the most recent presidential debate, with the Libertarian candidate spliced between the Democratic and Republican candidates. The mainstream media has excluded Johnson from the debates with the major party candidates this election season.
The video was made in Los Angeles by two men who work with the campaign, about an hour after the final debate last week at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.
Moderated by television journalist Bob Schieffer, the televised debate focused on foreign policy and questions about national security, Israel, Pakistan and the use of drones, among other topics.
The campaign's video shows Johnson appearing to listen to Mitt Romney's answer to a question on what he would do about the situation in Syria. It then cuts to Johnson's response. The backdrop is different and the production quality inferior.
"We need to stop our military interventions. ... We need a strong national defense for this country. Defense is the operative word, not offense, and not nation building," Johnson says, adding, "President Obama, you talk about nation building and that's all you do."
Regarding military drones, Romney says, "I believe we should use any and all means to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world."
Johnson disagrees, arguing, "Drones just don't take out the target intended, they take out innocent civilians. Innocent civilians die from these drone attacks and as a result of these drone attacks, which is war by remote control. We are making ourselves hundreds of millions of enemies to this country. We are the scourge of the Earth, we are not the savior of the Earth, and right now drone attacks have come to symbolize the United States and remote control warfare."
At one point, as Obama and Romney spar over another issue, Johnson playfully flaps his fingers to suggest what he thinks of their chatter.
At another point in the debate, Schieffer asks about whether the United States should "divorce" itself from Pakistan.
Romney says no. "It's not time to divorce a nation on Earth that has 100 nuclear weapons and is on the way to double that at some point," he says.
Johnson cuts in.
"What message are you sending, Gov. Romney, when you say that we can't back away from Pakistan because they have nuclear warheads? What you are saying to a country that doesn't have nuclear warheads is the only way ... to gain the United States' respect is to have nuclear warheads," he says.
Johnson, a two-term Republican governor who now calls himself a pro-Constitution Libertarian, appears on the ballot in almost all states, including New Mexico and the District of Columbia. He is a fiscal conservative with more liberal views on legalizing marijuana, abortion and gay marriage.
Despite local name recognition, Johnson's campaign hasn't gained the momentum some hoped it would. Although he has participated in minor party debates, his exclusion from debates with the Democrat and Republican nominees cost him exposure supporters say could have helped him gain in the polls.
However, campaign communications director Joe Hunter said Wednesday that the campaign "has accomplished much, but the fundamental achievement is to place a proven candidate on the ballot in 48 states and the District of Columbia who is truly fiscally conservative and socially accepting as a real alternative to the tired two-party system."
Despite low polling numbers, Johnson's campaign shows no sign of letting up as the election nears.
He is scheduled to be in Ohio on Thursday, then Washington, D.C., over the weekend.
He will be in Albuquerque election night.
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