The Libertarian Party's vice presidential candidate swung through the Triad on Monday with his pitch: Give the nation's third party a chance. You might like it.
Retired Judge Jim Gray did not play to large crowds. Just six people -- including the candidate himself -- had arrived for his 6:30 p.m. Greensboro fundraiser as of 7 p.m. But Gray insisted that he and the party's presidential nominee, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, are in the presidential race to win and that they back ideas most Americans agree with.
That includes a 43 percent reduction in the federal budget to end deficit spending, replacing the federal income tax with a sales tax, ending the war in Afghanistan, closing military bases around the world and legalizing marijuana.
"You can agree with us or disagree with us -- you know where we stand," said Gray, a former federal prosecutor and California Superior Court judge. "But agree with us on the big things. ... Be Libertarian with us this election, and if you're not happy with prosperity, equal opportunity and freedom, you're always welcome four years from now to vote back for politics as usual."
Gray called for a complete overhaul of the education system, replacing school funding with tuition vouchers for parents. Parental choice would lead to vastly better schools, he said.
He called for an end to the government war on drugs, which he has dubbed the biggest policy mistake in this country since slavery. He discussed tiered Social Security reforms that would raise the retirement age to 70 and turn the safety net into a private savings plan for people under 30.
He called President Obama and Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney "Robamaney," saying there was little difference between them. He also said he doesn't believe the president has proved he was born in this country.
This common theory, disproved for many when the president made his Hawaiian birth certificate public, would disqualify Obama from office. So would, for example, being under 32 years old, Gray said twice.
Questioned on this, he acknowledged the Constitution requires presidential candidates to be 35.
"I sit corrected," Gray said. "It's the only mistake I've made on this campaign. I think it's 32 to be a member of Congress."
That is also incorrect. It's 25 for the House and 30 for the Senate.
Gray and Johnson are on the ballot in 37 states, including North Carolina, according to the Libertarian Party, which has worked to meet stringent third-party requirements in many states.
The party expects to be on the ballot in all 50 states by November, Executive Director Carla Howell said last week.
But Johnson and Gray have not been invited to participate in the presidential debates because they haven't reached a 15 percent polling threshold. Gray asked that anyone called by a presidential pollster express support for the Libertarian candidates to get them in the debates.
"We will merit your vote thereafter," he said.
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