Transcript: CNN Libertarian Town Hall moderated by Chris Cuomo
FULL RUSH TRANSCRIPT:
CUOMO: Good evening, and welcome to the CNN Libertarian town hall. This is your chance to get to know the candidates behind a party and a movement that’s not only alive this election season, but growing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: In the year of the outsider, he’s looking for the inside track.
JOHNSON: How about a skeptic at the table?
ANNOUNCER: In a time of big talk, he’s promising straight talk.
JOHNSON: I tell the truth. I am not a liar.
ANNOUNCER: To the idea of more government promises, he’s promising less.
JOHNSON: Let people make decisions in their own lives.
ANNOUNCER: Libertarian Gary Johnson, running mate Bill Weld, two former governors, one governing philosophy.
JOHNSON: We are fiscally conservative, over the top. We’re socially liberal.
ANNOUNCER: The question this year: Can it win the day?
JOHNSON: Understand the opportunity, please.
ANNOUNCER: Or could they tip the race?
JOHNSON: It’s your choice.
ANNOUNCER: The unconventional choice in the least conventional race on record facing your questions tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right. Welcome to all of you who are joining us here in the audience in New York, across the country, and around the world. Just so you know, we’re being simulcast tonight on CNN International, CNN en Espanol, CNN Go, and SiriusXM satellite channel 116.
Now, the Libertarian Party may be the new party on your radar, but you should know, they were the first to hold its convention, make its choice, and is now working hard, right now, to get on the ballot in all 50 states.
So with us here tonight, Republicans, Democrats, independents, all of whom share one thing. They say they will not be voting for either Trump or Clinton. Now, this is something that we’re hearing more and more, people are not thrilled with their choices. They’re not hearing a message that resonates or sounds reasonable, or both.
And they’ve got questions. So the question is, can the Libertarians provide better answers than what you’ve heard so far? We’re going to see in the hour ahead.
As always, the questions come mainly from the audience. We at CNN have looked them over to make sure they don’t overlap. I’ll be asking a few myself, but mostly staying out of the way. So let’s get right to it.
Joining us now is the Libertarian presidential nominee, Governor Gary Johnson from New Mexico, and his running mate, Governor William Weld from Massachusetts. Gentlemen, welcome.
JOHNSON: Thank you. What an opportunity.
WELD: Yeah, thank you.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right, Governor. The question that we hear most often in preparation for tonight is probably going to be the easiest for you to answer. Who is Gary Johnson? And what is a libertarian? That has been the main question. So, introduce yourselves to the audience and what you represent as a Libertarian.
JOHNSON: Well, I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. I’m also an athlete, and I was the two-term governor of New Mexico, getting to be the governor in a state that’s 2 to 1 Democrat, and I’d never run for political office prior to running for governor of New Mexico. Got re-elected. Of course, Bill and I are both in that same category.
And what is a Libertarian? In broad-brush strokes, fiscally conservative, socially accepting, tolerant. Look, people should be able to make choices in their own lives, always come down on the side of choice. And then from a military intervention standpoint, look, we’re not isolationists in any way whatsoever, but we’re noninterventionists. We don’t want to get involved in other countries’ affairs. We think that the interventions that have gone on have resulted in a less safe world, not a more safe world.
CUOMO: All right, so we’ll flesh out those principles as the night goes along.
JOHNSON: I bet that does happen.
CUOMO: We will. These are going to be very good questions and they’re very pointed, coming from a lot of different people. So what do we see in the state of play right now? The election seems to be a proposition of who is less worse for many of the voters. We are steeped in negativity. In fact, on a personal level, you’ll look at both the candidates, we’ve never had presumptive nominees with as high negatives as we see with Trump and Clinton.
So the proposition for you, Governor, is for the people who have negative feelings about Trump and Clinton, why should they be positive about your ticket?
JOHNSON: Well, and that’s what the opportunity that we get to present here tonight. We are going into this as a team, really. Bill Weld being my running mate is beyond my wildest expectation, a political role model for me, but we’re not going to have separate staffs, and really stick to the issues, stick to the issues that are facing this country, and there are plenty.
CUOMO: Governor Weld, Mitt Romney said, hey, you know, the Libertarians are on something here, but I would have wanted to see the ticket flipped, he said, I would have wanted to see Weld on top. Not to create any internecine strife among governors.
JOHNSON: None. None whatsoever.
CUOMO: But in terms of how you perceive your role here and why you wanted to join this ticket, going from a Republican to a Libertarian, explain.
WELD: Well, I want to be an equal partner of Gary. We served together as governors. And I was governor twice of Massachusetts in the ’90s. And we had kind of a mutual admiration society when we served together back then.
Before that, I was a federal prosecutor for seven years, so we do bring a lot of executive experience to the table, eight years in Gary’s case. Each of us, our first elective office was governor. In my case, 13 years, if you count the Justice Department. So that’s a lot of problem-solving all day long.
CUOMO: The last two days, we’ve seen something somewhat unusual, if not unprecedented. Big blocks of national time used by each of the main candidates to basically pull out a big stick and beat the other one over the head with it. Their main propositions that were put out, I want your take on them.
Hillary Clinton went first. And fundamentally the argument that she made is that Trump’s business pedigree is a farce, that he’s not a good businessman. You founded and ran your own successful business in construction. What is your assessment? Do you agree with Clinton when she says Trump is not a legitimate businessman, it should not be seen as a plus?
JOHNSON: You know, I do leave that to others, Chris. The issues that I have with Trump, starting with immigration, starting with free trade, going on and on and on, killing the families of Muslim terrorists, really, it’s what’s coming out of his mouth that I really have issues with, and those are the issues that are facing this country.
CUOMO: Big issues, but obviously your assessment of the state of play is relevant, also. The return from Trump was that Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person to ever run for president. Is that a view that you would embrace?
JOHNSON: That is not a view that I would embrace. I don’t think either of us are going to engage in any sort of name-calling. We’re going to keep this to the issues, and the issues are plenty.
CUOMO: All right, good. One of the big issues whenever you want to run a successful campaign is money. Nobody likes it, but everybody has to play by the rules until those rules are changed. There was a lot made of the fact that Clinton has so much more money than Trump right now. Obviously the mitigating factor there is that Trump says he could self-fund in a check.
Money is going to be an obstacle for you, as well. Right now, I believe last count a disclosure was $175,000 grand on hand. How can you raise the money to be effective in a race of this magnitude?
JOHNSON: Well, I think with the appearance here on this town hall, I think that…
CUOMO: Banking on the CNN ticket are you, Governor?
JOHNSON: You know, there it is right there. And doesn’t it speak volumes that we are sitting here on the money that we have raised? So it is a different kind of campaign, earned media, social media, and we’re looking to take advantage — as much advantage as we can on that. And Bill — you know, Bill’s thing is fundraising. He likes to fundraise and he knows a lot of people. And it’s…
CUOMO: You have been in the hardest position in politics on several different occasions, which is the one to pick up the phone and ask for the money.
WELD: And I like doing that. If you can’t sell yourself or your candidate, what can you sell? So I was Pete Wilson’s finance chair nationally when he ran for president, and I had the honor of serving Mitt Romney’s co-chair in New York for both of his presidential runs, and I’ve hung around the Republican National Committee for a long time. So half of the big Republican donors have said they’re not going to support Mr. Trump. That’s a lot to work with.
CUOMO: So what are you finding? What do you feel comfortable disclosing to us? I know these conversations are often confidential, and reasonably so. But what’s your pitch? And what are you hearing in response?
WELD: Oh, the pitch is that we’re the people who say we want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom, and if people don’t subscribe to that, then it’s a longer conversation. But that was my pitch to the Republican National Convention in 1992.
And much of the — and I won’t say the Never Trump crowd, it’s just the people who have decided not yet to support Mr. Trump who are Republicans, they do share our view of being fiscally conservative and socially inclusive, so it’s not a hard sell, it’s not a bad conversation. It often takes two, three, four conversations. But the first conversation is always easy.
CUOMO: The first conversation is easy. Have you had any success yet?
WELD: Oh, yeah.
CUOMO: You don’t want to throw a number at me or anything like that?
WELD: No, no, no.
CUOMO: Well played, Governor, well played. All right. Governor Johnson, let’s do some word association here. I’ll say the name, you hit me with the first thing that comes to mind. Remember, we’ve got an audience here and a lot of people watching out there, as well. President Barack Obama?
JOHNSON: Good guy.
CUOMO: One. Governor Weld?
WELD: Barack Obama? I think he’s been statesman-like the last couple of years. He had a disappointing first term, and I think he’s picked up his game the last couple of years. It’s gone better for him.
CUOMO: Hillary Clinton?
JOHNSON: Hillary Clinton, a wonderful public servant, I guess I would say that.
WELD: Old friend. Nice kid. Knew her in her 20s. We shared an office in the Nixon impeachment, real bond, lifelong. Seriously. Not kidding.
CUOMO: Donald Trump?
JOHNSON: I’m sure there’s something good to say about Donald somewhere, I’m sure. In the debates — I play a game in the debates, so during the Republican debate when it was asked the question, will you support the nominee, I would have said, “Look, I’ll leave it open, but I would not support Donald Trump based on what he has said to this point.” And that was all the things that he had said to that point. I’ll leave it open. But everybody else said they would support the nominee. I would have said no to Donald Trump unless things change.
CUOMO: Donald Trump, one word?
CUOMO: I think it’s very interesting, though, until that last word, you both tried to be positive about the names that were offered…
WELD: No, if you give me more words, I had a lot more…
CUOMO: I only asked you one. The choice was yours, Governor, but you only had one word.
JOHNSON: And I took the liberty of…
CUOMO: But very interesting. A different tone on the stage tonight when people are looking for reasons to be positive. We have a lot of issues to cover with a lot of anxious people in the audience. So we’re going to get right to it. We’re going to take a quick break. When we get back, we get to what the town hall is all about. The CNN Libertarian town hall is going to begin right after this.
CUOMO: Welcome back to CNN Libertarian town hall. We have candidates Gary Johnson and William Weld. It’s time now for questions from the audience. First up, we have Jeanette McCoy. Jeanette was inside the Pulse nightclub when it was attacked on June 12th. We all know that situation too well. One of her friends was shot. She took off her shirt, she tied a tourniquet around his wounds and helped him. Thank you for being here, Jeanette. And I’m sorry about what you had to go through.
QUESTION: Well, thank you for having me. Well, my question is, I do believe in the constitutional right of bearing — to bear arms. I do own a gun. Yet my question is, even though, when it comes to our car situation, it’s also considered a deadly weapon, yet we have to have insurance and we register it every single year. Now it’s actually easier to buy a gun and to use it than to legally drive a car.
You said America would be safer if it was easier to buy guns and if more people carried them, especially out in public. But last week, when I went out dancing with my friends, unfortunately, I ended up in the middle of the worst mass shooting in our nation’s history. And I’m still a little bit distraught about it. Yes. But what I did want to ask is, how would making it easier to buy guns with minimum requirements, especially unnecessary military rifles, how is that making it easier for us?
JOHNSON: I don’t think our position would be making it easier. We’re not looking to roll back anything. But with regard to keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, with regard to keeping guns out of the hands of potential terrorists — Bill talked about establishing a thousand-person taskforce to potentially address that, a hot line. Look, we should be open to these discussions.
I would love to understand what transpired between the shooter and the FBI, for example, getting in the middle of that. That’s why I want to get elected president. I just — I do really well in that situation. I’m not saying I would be value-added, but, look, the FBI came in contact with this guy three times. What transpired? Why wasn’t this guy deprived of his guns?
CUOMO: Well, when we look at that question, it takes you down the road of whether you see the Second Amendment as being open-ended or closed. Put some more meat on the bones of your position on this, because your baseline is I don’t believe in restrictions, I think that people should be able to exercise their Second Amendment right, but then you bring up mental health and that gets tricky, because now you’re dealing with super regulation, because unless it’s an adjudicated mental illness, now you’re dealing with really subjective measurements and real potential curtailment of rights. So how do you balance saying I don’t believe in restriction, but then being open to very serious restrictions?
JOHNSON: Well, number one, you shouldn’t close off that debate. You shouldn’t close off that discussion. We should be open to how that might take place. And, look, automatic weapons are not allowed in the United States. They’ve been illegal. And when you talk about semi-automatic weapons, that’s a category that encompasses 25 million rifles in this country. Please chime in.
CUOMO: Because you’ve said that you’ve evolved on this issue. When you were governor in Massachusetts, you saw gun control as being necessary. Now, so what do you mean when you say you’ve evolved?
WELD: My most relevant experience, Chris, is my seven years in the Justice Department, and I was an organized crime prosecutor, and I saw the way Rudy Giuliani, myself, others took out the whole top three echelons of organized crime in the 1980s. It’s by having a central place where you collect all the intelligence, you build a case bit by bit, and then you go after the whole enchilada.
And I think we should do the same with a thousand-person FBI taskforce treating ISIS as a gigantic organized crime family, which is exactly what it is. And you have them add the probable cause bit by bit, just like the Justice Department does. Jim Comey, the head of the FBI, was practically a national hero when he was deputy attorney general, together with my deputy in the Justice Department, Bob Mueller, who was head of the FBI for 12 years.
These people know how to do this, task forces like the department had against Enron, financial crimes. So they could get results there treating ISIS as an organized crime family and taking them out.
CUOMO: All right, so there’s a piece. Governor Johnson, right now you have a sit-in going on, at least right before we started. I don’t know what the current status is. But do you agree with what is driving the sit-in by the congressmen right now?
JOHNSON: No. I think that these lists are subject to error. And if you’re one of those error members, and I am talking now about the terrorist list or the no-fly list, that has active members of Congress on both lists…
CUOMO: But you know those are the very small minority of cases.
JOHNSON: No, absolutely.
CUOMO: And there is due process to deal with your being on a list. Right? Because the suggestion would be, you’re wrongly on a list, we can deal with that. You get a gun when you’re on one of those lists, now it’s out of our hands.
JOHNSON: Believe me, these are really sensitive issues. And I’ll just point out that I kind of sort of want to pivot here. I mean, the death penalty is subject to 3 percent to 4 percent error on the death penalty. So if you’re in that category, and you’re put to death, that’s my opposition to the death penalty, is that all of these government lists are subject to error. And if you happen to be one of those, Chris, you may have your life adversely affected.
CUOMO: No question. Another question from the audience, shall we? Ron Litchman, he works as a portfolio manager and he is the chair of the Manhattan Libertarian Party. What do you have?
QUESTION: Good evening, Governor and Governor. A question on health care from a Libertarian perspective. I understand, Governor Johnson, your position is to replace government-run health insurance and medical care with a very competitive free-market system, which you expect to reduce the costs of health insurance, reduce the costs of medical services, and provide a lot more choice for consumers and patients.
But in the event that there’s a fellow American who doesn’t get health insurance or even opts out, and then gets sick, and can’t afford the cost of the care that he needs to survive, is it really a Libertarian principle that society should say he’s made a choice, bears the consequences, and should be allowed to die?
JOHNSON: Well, both of us having been governors of our respective states, look, there should be a safety net out there regarding health care, and in no way are we saying that the safety net should be eliminated.
President Obama’s health care plan — at the end of the day, I’m looking to get elected president of the United States. So I am going to sign onto any initiatives, really, that bring a free-market approach to health care.
My insurance premiums currently have quadrupled. I haven’t seen a doctor in three years. I’m agreeing with Chief Justice Roberts that it is a tax. And bringing free-market approach to health care, we would not have insurance to cover ourselves for ongoing medical need. We would have insurance to cover ourselves for catastrophic injury and illness.
And if we could bring genuine competition to health care, health care would be one-fifth the cost of what it is right now. You would have Stitches R Us. You would have advertised pricing with outcomes that you — you’d see published outcomes. Something that right now, when any of us go to the doctor, we have no idea what it’s going to cost, we have no idea what the outcome is going to be. We get a bill. We know that nobody is going to actually pay the amount of money that’s on that bill.
Well, if there were a free market for health care, I think you’d see dramatic savings, and it’s all about savings. Look, it’s all about savings, it’s all about more effective delivery of health care.
CUOMO: Earlier today, House Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. What would you do with Obamacare?
JOHNSON: Well, looking to get elected president and vice president, and as a team, hey, we’re going to take a look at this legislation, and if it accomplishes the notion of lower costs and as good or better health care, count on a signature.
CUOMO: So is Obamacare out or is it in and modified? What is it?
JOHNSON: I’m going to assume that Republican proposals accomplish that. If the proposals don’t accomplish that, then I’m not on board.
CUOMO: Another question. Emily Laser, she works in international development, is leaning toward voting for you, Governor Johnson. Emily?
QUESTION: Governor Johnson, on your website, you state that a woman’s right to choose is the law of the land, and that if a woman wants to exercise that right, she should be able to do so without being subject to persecution or denied health care access. However, states like Texas continuously put laws in place that restrict abortion services, as well as clinics. As a Libertarian, what do you view as the federal government’s role in ensuring a woman’s right to choose in every state?
JOHNSON: Well, what people don’t understand right now, it is the law of the land. The law of the land currently is not Roe v. Wade. It’s Casey v. Planned Parenthood. And the law of the land is, is that a woman has the right to have an abortion up to the point of viability of the fetus, and the Supreme Court has defined viability of the fetus as sustaining the life of the fetus outside of the womb, even if by artificial means.
That’s the law of the land. We’re not looking to change the law of the land in any way. And bottom line, what a difficult decision. Can there be a more difficult decision in anyone’s life other than — and I’m talking about the woman now who’s facing abortion — than that decision? But that’s a decision that should lie strictly with the woman involved.
WELD: But I think it’s OK for the government to be involved in ensuring clinic access, because that’s guarding a fundamental constitutional right of the individual. So that’s not the nanny state; that’s good government, not bad government.
CUOMO: That winds up being the follow-up for Emily’s question, I think. Emily, tell me if I’m wrong, which is you say you want the government out of your life that way so it’s choice. But does the government have a role in protecting that right, as the governor just suggested? Because that might not be the pure Libertarian view, but it may be more along what I’m hearing from you two. Does the government have a role in protecting the right to choose that you say you hold inviolate?
JOHNSON: Well, back to law of the land, perhaps, Bill, you can take off on that a little bit, but the law of the land, I stated it, and we’re not looking to change the law of the land. And, fundamentally look, woman’s right to choose — and Planned Parenthood I think Republicans, really, they alienated a lot of people when they stopped — when they talk about de-funding Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood does a lot of good, and that starts with women’s health.
WELD: People sometimes say to me, you know, why should the government say that equality of marriage, gays and lesbians being able to marry is the law of the land, and isn’t that the nanny state? No, not at all. That’s the Constitution telling you that marriage equality is dictated by the due process clause and equal protection clause. That’s not the government. So I think that’s a canard to say that government should have no role in safeguarding the constitutional right.
CUOMO: Now, let’s go to another question from Amanda Lindemann that kind of touches on the outer parameters of this discussion we’re having on this issue in particular. She lives in New York, currently undecided. Amanda?
QUESTION: Good evening. Thank you for coming this evening and taking my question. Do you pray and do you believe in God?
JOHNSON: I have to admit to praying once in a while, and, yes, I do believe in God.
WELD: Same on both. Same on both.
CUOMO: What do you want people to know about you in terms of religion? I mean, is the answer it’s none of your business? Or do you go to church? Do you ascribe to a particular religious philosophy?
JOHNSON: I was raised a Christian. I do not attend church. And if there’s one thing that I’ve taken away from Christianity, do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
CUOMO: Why don’t you go to church?
JOHNSON: I don’t…
CUOMO: I ask you as a suffering Catholic, you know? That question just comes up.
JOHNSON: I’m one of those that just — the God that I speak to is not — doesn’t have a particular religion.
CUOMO: Another question, shall we? Paul Jost, Paul is a real estate investor from Miami Beach. He’s a lifelong Republican. But he will not support Donald Trump, he says, and he’s leaning towards supporting you gentlemen. Sir?
QUESTION: Thank you. Governors, the presumptive Republican nominee has said that he wants to build a big, huge, very expensive wall on our border with Mexico. He also wants to deport 11 million undocumented residents. Do you agree with this plan? And if not, what do you plan to do to defuse this very emotional situation?
JOHNSON: Well, I find both of his statements just incendiary, and I am speaking as a border state governor. The deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants is really based in misinformation. Building a fence across the border borders on insanity.
We should make it as easy as possible for somebody that wants to come into this country and work to be able to get a work visa. I’m not talking about a green card; I’m not talking about a citizenship, but a work visa that should entail a background check and a Social Security card so that applicable taxes get paid.
They are not taking jobs that U.S. citizens want. They’re hard-working individuals. The reason for the 11 million illegal immigrants is because there are jobs that exist in this country and they can’t get across the border legally, so they cross illegally.
WELD: And that’s not the limit of the really unreasonable foreign policy proposals by the presumptive Republican nominee. The notion of having Japan and South Korea have access to nuclear weapons is crazy in a world where nuclear proliferation is the number-one threat to the security of the world.
The notion that he is going to impose huge penalties on Mexico and China at will violates our obligations under treaties and international agreements like the World Trade Organization. You cannot be president of the United States and talk like that. You cannot even be a candidate for president of the United States and talk like that.
JOHNSON: And let me for a second, how’s the deportation of 11 million illegal immigrants going to work in my home state, New Mexico, where the population is 48 percent Hispanic? Is this going to be a knock — well, it’s going to amount to a knock on the door by the federal government. They come to my door, oh, gee, you’re the former governor, I guess we won’t search your house. But the next door, they go to is statistically going to be Hispanic, and there are going to have to be papers produced. And I’m just telling you, this is incendiary.
CUOMO: Governor Weld, you’ve gone beyond incendiary, you’ve gone beyond bad politics. You recently likened Trump’s immigration policies to what happened in Nazi Germany.
WELD: Sure did.
WELD: I think that the Republican presumptive nominee has succeeded in tapping into the very worst political traditions of the United States and other countries. The amount of fear engendered of Europe — in Europe with the knock at the door that Governor Johnson mentions, Anne Frank hiding in the attic, hoping no noise will alert the Nazis below, they’re directly analogous.
CUOMO: And to liken it to genocide? I mean, you know, this is an ugly scenario. There’s no question about it.
WELD: No, no. It’s the roundup — it’s the roundup that he has proposed, the rounding up and deportation of 11 million people. I mean, that’s a lot of people. And that’s going to engender a lot of fear, pit citizens and noncitizens against the government, breed disrespect for authority. I just think it’s not a realistic prescription whatsoever.
CUOMO: So how do you balance…
JOHNSON: Back to the work visas. Look, if you’re in the country illegally, there are 11 million illegal immigrants, come on in, get your work visa, as long as you’ve been law-abiding, we’ll give you the work visa, and let’s start separating those that are here illegally that — the bad people that are here, make it easy to distinguish from a Border Patrol standpoint the difference between somebody that is crossing illegally and the woman with her kids who knows there are jobs in El Paso, but she’s got to wade across the Rio Grande with her kids to get that job.
CUOMO: But that would also be considered illegal, though, Governor.
JOHNSON: It is. Yes, it is.
CUOMO: From a compassionate standpoint, I get the distinction. But from a legal one, you have to deal with that as the commander-in-chief of the country.
JOHNSON: So, like I say, make it as easy as possible for her to get a work visa so — so that the line is moving to get across the border. And if she’s gotten across the border already and she’s held a job, look, come on in, get a work visa. Let’s dot the i’s and cross the t’s on your being here legally.
WELD: But that doesn’t mean we should all panic and say, amnesty, amnesty, that means we’re going to have 11 million illegals as citizens. They don’t have to become citizens. They can be, you know, held to their limited period of work and then go home.
JOHNSON: Citizenry will still be a process. And I’m not even talking about being a citizen. Let’s get beyond the 11 million illegal immigrants with an easy work visa program.
CUOMO: Christina Casalino has a question. She’s from Little Neck, New York. She is undecided. Christina?
QUESTION: Hello. If you have the choice, Trump or Clinton, which one would you pick? And who do you think is going to be like a better president?
JOHNSON: Look, I’ve been a self-described Libertarian since 1971. And since 1971, there’s always been a Libertarian pick. My first vote for a Libertarian president was Bergland against Ronald Reagan his second term, because Ronald Reagan blew the lid off of deficits, so I know there will always be a Libertarian choice.
CUOMO: All right. But I’m saying — I think the question — and, again, I always like to — feel free to tell me I’m wrong, it happens all the time — but if you had to say that one of these is more qualified than the other, who should be president?
JOHNSON: Bring back waterboarding or worse or — it’s not going to…
CUOMO: You’re not going to give an answer?
JOHNSON: No, I’m not going to give in to voting for one of the other.
WELD: I would.
CUOMO: Thank you. And that’s why you’re a good team. Governor Weld?
WELD: Well, I think Mrs. Clinton, no matter what you might think of various economic policies, is very well qualified to be president of the United States. I would not say the same of Mr. Trump, with all respect.
CUOMO: All right. Did you get the answer?
QUESTION: Yes, no, not really.
CUOMO: You got at least one of them.
QUESTION: Well (OFF-MIKE)
CUOMO: You know, you’ve got to take what you get sometimes.
QUESTION: Thank you. Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. So we’re going to have a lot more audience questions to come. As you can see, they’re really touching on a range of issues. So, please, in a second, come back and watch the rest of the CNN Libertarian town hall. Stay with us.
CUOMO: Welcome back to the CNN Libertarian town hall. We have Governor Gary Johnson, he, of course, the president — he’s the party’s presidential nominee, and his running mate, Governor William Weld. We’ve been covering a range of topics here. Let’s get back to the audience. We have Maureen Morella. She’s from West Milford, New Jersey, and she’s currently undecided. And she has a really important question. Please?
QUESTION: Thank you, Chris, and thank you, Governors. Governors, when one of my sons was 16 years old, he went out with some friends and he did a line of heroin. It did not end well for him. He became very sick and vomited. He aspirated and was left with brain damage so severe that now, 12 years later, he remains in a wheelchair with no ability to eat or speak, and he is fed through a tube in his stomach.
His dad and I take 100 percent care of him. He has enough cognitive ability that he goes out with me and speaks at every forum where we are asked to go a message about not doing drugs.
We live in an extremely high-risk society, and this is a normal for our children. So, Governors, please explain to me how you think that legalizing marijuana straight through to heroin can possibly be a harm reduction forum. It makes no sense to me.
And when you go out on the road with me, I can assure you that these young people say, can you people in positions of power please get rid of the drugs? We don’t want to lose any more of our siblings or friends.
JOHNSON: So heart breaking, heart breaking. And we are not espousing the legalization of any drugs outside of marijuana. But what you are pointing out, and this is — this is heart breaking — but what you’re pointing out is that prohibition, really, is what your son succumbed to, and that was is that overdose — and, again, speaking specifically, please, just — but overdose, you’re a heroin addict, and you’re taking heroin, and you take — you take heroin — you take your heroin, you take your heroin, your supplier has now been arrested and put into jail, and now comes a new supplier of heroin, and the new supply of heroin, visually you’re taking the same dose that you’ve taken before, but it’s of a different quality and a different quantity, and it ends up killing you.
So when you look at programs like Zurich, Switzerland, where they have a heroin maintenance program, the idea in Zurich, Switzerland, was no more overdose deaths, because you could — as a heroin addict, you could go in, you could get your dose, it would be a free dose, but you wouldn’t die of an overdose. You wouldn’t — you’d have clean needles so that you’d be able to not succumb either to Hepatitis C, HIV.
The idea was to reduce death, disease, crime, and corruption, and that’s what’s happened in Zurich. And the citizens of Zurich have re-upped on that program. So I hate to say it, but it’s prohibition, it’s quality, quantity unknown that kills people.
QUESTION: Governor, if I may.
JOHNSON: Sure. Sure.
QUESTION: That is not what I’m asking you. I’m not talking about people that are addicted. And when they go to your pretty little places with the pretty little needles, we’re still going to have street people out selling heroin…
QUESTION: … because they’re going to get their one dose and it’s not enough, so you’re keeping people addicted, and you are not curing the fact that it is a sickness, it is an illness. And you are not addressing the young people that are so desensitized to what drugs are doing. And putting more drugs out there desensitizes them further.
JOHNSON: We’re not to advocating the legalization of any drugs, not heroin. But when you look at…
QUESTION: But you have. I’ve read literature where you have thought about it, Governor.
CUOMO: But Maureen is referring to you being asked in the past, would the world be better off if all drugs were legal? And you answered yes.
JOHNSON: The point being is when you take a city like Vancouver, which also has the same program for heroin addicts, where they can actually bring in their dose of heroin and have it tested, is this going to kill me or is this not going to kill me, we have — we have the best policies in this country to kill heroin addicts. Those are the policies that we have in place.
If the government — and I’m not suggesting these kinds of programs on a federal level, but on a local level, at a local level, health departments were to say, look, heroin addicts, you bring in your dose of heroin before you ingest it, and we’ll test it as to whether or not it will kill you or not, that’s my point.
CUOMO: But, Governor, Governor, let’s take a moment on this, because it matters. It seems to me that there’s an inconsistency here. Either you think drugs should be legalized or not, so let’s just get that first, and then we’ll get into what the scale of it.
JOHNSON: No drugs legalized outside of marijuana.
CUOMO: So heroin should be illegal?
JOHNSON: We don’t know how to deal with the legalization of marijuana, but we do — excuse me, the legalization of heroin, but we do have programs throughout the world that actually are effective in reducing the kind of situation that just…
CUOMO: So you’re saying keep it — the answer to Maureen’s question, you’re saying keep heroin illegal, but boost the amount of programs that you have to make it safer for addicts?
JOHNSON: Reduce — in other words, what we’re really concerned with is death, disease, crime, and corruption. And we can have programs to do just that.
CUOMO: But keep the drugs illegal? Governor, please, weigh in.
JOHNSON: Keep the drugs illegal.
WELD: The other trend which I think is salutary, which is not going to bring back your son’s prior status — and I understand that we’re not talking about addiction there — but I do think that society is coming to view people who have serious issues with either narcotics or alcohol, that that is a public health emergency and it’s not — it’s not a status crime which it has been treated as. Again, this is not your son’s case.
But there’s some movement away from incarcerating people for possessory narcotics offenses and treating that as a public health issue. In Massachusetts, for example, women who have substance abuse cases are no longer taken to criminal prison. They’re taken to civil commitment facilities. And that’s part of, I think, lessening the pressure all around drugs, which is part of what Gary is talking about, in getting them out of the shadows.
JOHNSON: Needle exchange programs in states that reduce HIV and Hepatitis C, you know, very controversial, but the bottom line is that it saves lives.
WELD: Boy, I came out for those when I was governor and did I get murdered.
CUOMO: Well, because makes it seem like you’re soft on crime, right, when you treat addicts with respect and you deal with treatment, it seems like you’re being soft on crime. But just to be very clear, from Maureen — and thank you again for sharing what happened in your own family — the baseline is you don’t think all drugs should be legal. You just say marijuana should be…
JOHNSON: No, I’m not advocating — I’m not advocating such. It’s marijuana. And I think — I think the country comes to a quantum leap in understanding, by legalizing marijuana, and that drug problems are health issues. They’re not criminal justice issues.
CUOMO: Marijuana. A lot of the people online who are getting ready for tonight, they knew that about you.
CUOMO: They’re like, you know, Johnson, he’s the guy who believes in marijuana, he believes it should be legal. But then you said that you stopped taking it seven weeks ago because you want to be sharp. So you are now in the odd position of coming under scrutiny, not because you took the drug, but now because you’ve stopped taking the drug. So people are saying, where’s the policy consistency? Where’s the consistency of your belief that it can’t harm you if you stop taking it, because you thought that it would take away your edge?
JOHNSON: So, first of all, you as an individual, I don’t care if you drink yourself silly every night of the week as long as you don’t get behind the wheel of a car, as long as you don’t do harm to others. And with regard to marijuana, why should somebody who takes the edge off when it comes to marijuana, why should they not have that same ability as long as they don’t do others harm?
I haven’t had a drink of alcohol in 29 years. My whole life is about health and wellness. And because I stopped using marijuana — look, I’ve gone years without consuming sugar or caffeine. I have the ability to do that. I made a personal decision.
I don’t want to in any way disparage someone who does use marijuana or does use alcohol and finds benefit from that. So like I say, this is my own life, these are the decisions I’ve made. I don’t want to make a value judgment here on others. I think others should be entitled to live their lives as they see fit. And this is a real Libertarian principle here. Look, when it comes to choices in your own life, you should be able to make those choices as long as you’re not doing harm to others.
CUOMO: Let’s go to Jeremiah Wegner. He’s a student at Columbia University. He says he’s leaning toward supporting you, Governor Johnson, unless a Republican somehow replaces Trump at the convention. I’d love to know how you think that’s going to happen, by the way, but we’ll talk after the town hall. What’s your question?
QUESTION: Thanks, Chris. So as a previously enlisted Army Ranger who’s deployed nearly six times, I have seen firsthand the epic, wasteful amount of spending done in our global war on terror. I understand that if elected, Governor, your plan is to reduce the federal budget 20 percent across all departments. So my question is, how do you balance maintaining the world’s most dominant military force while attempting to eliminate wasteful spending?
JOHNSON: You want a crack at that one?
WELD: Sure. I mean, Gary and I — I personally have never seen a layer of government that I didn’t think had 10 or 20 percent waste in it, and the federal government is no exception to that. So our opening position will be to look for 20 percent that we could reduce the size of the federal government.
As to the military, the baseline position of the Libertarian Party is an invincible defense. An invincible defense includes projection of military supremacy both air and naval around the world, because people around the world really do pay attention. It does not encompass interventionism, boots on the ground, American blood on foreign soil.
And I was a little surprised this week to see 51 State Department diplomats say we want to bomb to force regime change in Syria. You know, regime change. I say to myself, that sounds familiar. It takes a lot of boots on the ground to effectuate regime change, if you want to make sure it sticks.
So, you know, what you would have is a pair of skeptics when people come and say we should intervene here on the ground because these people are being mean to each other and we can’t stand that. That’s not going to sell as a matter of first impressions.
CUOMO: So let’s unpack this a little bit, Governor, because it’s one thing to say we have to be the best equipped military in the world. And there’s very little debate that good men like Jeremiah are the best fighters in the world. The question is how you use them.
Syria, Governor Weld brought up. Do you believe that there should be U.S. military intervention in Syria, given the context, which is without U.S. help, it does not seem that they can get it done?
JOHNSON: No. There should not have been military intervention in Syria. And it has had the unintended consequence of actually growing ISIS. Speaking earlier about — the Pentagon itself says that we could reduce bases in the United States by 20 percent. That’s coming from the Pentagon. But you don’t have Congress that goes along with that, because of course that’s bases in home states, and that’s what Congress does, is protect their own interests.
CUOMO: Libertarians are seen as isolationists. You started off tonight by saying we’re going to redefine that. We’re going to help you understand it, because that’s not true. But where do you then see a role for U.S. military in the world, on all the various theaters right now, where we’re involved?
JOHNSON: If we are attacked, we’re going to attack back. And you can certainly argue that we have been attacked by ISIS, but let’s involve Congress also in this process, something that Congress has abdicated to the president and to the military and that we do find ourselves in these conflicts without an open debate and discussion on how we should move forward. We’re obligated to defend borders in other countries that have not — not been negotiated through Congress, either.
CUOMO: Understood. But just one follow on that. If you believe that the United States should use military force to respond when attacked, and you say constructively we have been attacked by ISIS, then how can you not be involved in Syria, which is obviously a big swath of the Levant, where ISIS has its stronghold? How do you stay out of there?
JOHNSON: Well, because of our intervention, ISIS has grown as a result. I mean, you had Assad against ISIS, and now you take out — you know, we decided to go against Assad, and that’s ISIS. So, you know, that’s now our new ally?
CUOMO: Governors, let’s take a quick break. When we come back, we’re going to have more questions from the audience here in the Libertarian CNN town hall.
CUOMO: Welcome back to the CNN Libertarian town hall. We have candidates Gary Johnson and William Weld. We have another question from the audience. Khurram Dara, he’s an attorney and a writer. He’s a registered Republican, but he says he’s open to a third-party candidate. Is that still true at this point in the evening?
QUESTION: That is still true.
CUOMO: Good to know. What’s the question?
QUESTION: Good evening, Governor Johnson, Governor Weld. Given the uphill battle you face as a third-party candidate, what assurances can you give to undecided voters or what steps are you taking to ensure that your campaign isn’t just a spoiler campaign, but is, in fact, a campaign that can be competitive and that can actually have a chance at winning in the fall?
JOHNSON: Well, we would not be doing this if there weren’t the opportunity to win, but the only opportunity to win is to actually be in the presidential debates, Super Bowl of politics. To do that, we’ve got to be at 15 percent in the polls. To be at 15 percent in the polls, you’ve got to be in the polls.
And right now, we see it day after day after day where, really, it’s two candidates running for president. Occasionally they throw in our names, and, really, it’s showing at a level that if it were just — if it were three names all the time, I think unquestionably we’d be at that 15 percent level and provide another voice at the table. And this is the opportunity tonight, of course, to tell you what that voice is.
WELD: And once we get in the debates, which may be the harder of the two leaps, the other leap is to persuade people that we’re the lead alternative, because we reject the extremes of both parties. And that duopoly down there in Washington is not getting a lot done. It’s almost like the parties exist more for the purpose of slandering each other than they do for having constructive approaches to legislation.
And I think that’s why people are a little bit — or more than a little bit fed up with the two parties. So I’m not sure I see a lot of original thought coming out of either party. And we like to think that we’re going to be the third way, which is the most creative way.
CUOMO: CNN has you guys at 9 percent in the most recent poll. Jill Stein for the Green Party at 7 percent. So you’ve got a cumulative 16 percent. The question becomes, well, what is your impact if you don’t win? Now, Governor Weld, you said earlier this evening that you believe Hillary Clinton is qualified to be president. You do not believe Donald Trump is qualified to be president.
If you were to see, Governor Johnson, because you were not as open in your disclosures about how you feel about the particular candidates, if it were to come to bear fruit that you saw that you were hurting Clinton or you were hurting Trump and that that was your role in this election, how would you feel about that?
JOHNSON: I’d feel just fine. I do believe that we’ve got — the two-party system is a two-party dinosaur and that they’re about to come in contact with the comet here. I think that that’s a real possibility. Look, there are extremes on both sides. And I think most Americans are Libertarian. It’s just that they don’t know it, and this is an opportunity tonight to describe that.
CUOMO: Jim Tosone joins us now. He has a question. He’s a management consultant from New Jersey. He’s the vice chair of the New Jersey Libertarian Party. He says he’s supporting you, Governor Johnson. Jim?
QUESTION: Good evening, Governors. Both of the major party candidates have embraced a protectionist anti-free-trade policy. Tell us why supporting free trade benefits American businesses and American consumers.
JOHNSON: Well, free trade does benefit. I think that — I think that unfairly free trade has come under criticism for being crony capitalism. Look, we’re anti-crony capitalism. So much of legislation that gets passed, so much of what goes on under the guise of free trade really is crony capitalism. The fact that favoritism is for sale when it comes to government, and Congress sells it.
Government can level the playing field for everyone. And saw that as governor of New Mexico. I had the best record of jobs in the 2012 presidential race, something that they brought out. I think I was — I think I was responsible for leveling that playing field, something that we both understand and can accomplish, and that level playing field really is free trade.
WELD: But then in the purest sense, free trade is always going to benefit the United States compared to other countries because we have the highest rate of productivity and we’re the most technologically advanced country in the world. So we’re always going to have that edge. And free trade is going to produce high wage jobs in the United States.
You know, it’s an imperative to get the wage level up in this country. And that’s one of the things that’s going to do it. You may lose at the margin some low-wage jobs. But free trade over the long haul, even the intermediate haul, is going to increase the wage level in the United States. And the notion that Mr. Trump has of let’s impose these huge unilateral tariffs, we tried that with the Smoot-Hawley tariff in the 1920s and it croaked the world economy.
CUOMO: Everybody is saying jobs, jobs, jobs in the election right now. Nobody is saying how, how, how. When you say that — because, look, trade goes away as an issue of a problem if you’re generating good jobs at home. You just said that. How do you generate good jobs in the United States?
JOHNSON: Well, as president of the United States, looking to get elected president of the United States, count on me to sign on tax policy that would reduce or simplify taxes in this country. But if I could wave a magic wand, I would eliminate income tax, I would eliminate corporate tax, I would abolish the IRS, and I would replace it all with one federal consumption tax.
If we have zero corporate tax in this country, I believe that tens of millions of jobs will get created in this country for no other reason — why you would start up, grow a business anywhere but the United States, given a zero corporate tax rate? And what do you replace all that with? Like I say, you replace it with one federal consumption tax.
I suggest that everybody look at the fair tax as a way to dot the i’s and cross the t’s on how you would accomplish one federal consumption tax. That’s up for grabs. Whether it’s the exact percentages or exactly the way that the fair tax proposal does that, but it is laid out very specific.
CUOMO: The devil is a little bit in the details, Governor, if you want to address this part of it. The big problem with doing what you’re doing is you wind up cutting the amount of revenues that government has to work with.
JOHNSON: No, actually, it’s revenue neutral. The whole proposal…
CUOMO: That’s not so — according to economists, that’s not so easy to achieve.
JOHNSON: Well, then — well, maybe not. But…
CUOMO: Because you’re doing — because why? Just to give you the context, why. If you say — the fair tax number that’s usually thrown out is 28 percent. This would be your consumption tax. So you’re automatically reducing the 39 percent from the top level down. That creates an issue about how you want to distribute the tax burden. But…
JOHNSON: You’re getting a little too into the weeds here.
CUOMO: You think so? But I think it matters to people, because the idea can sound really good, one tax.
CUOMO: But you’re also cutting your revenues in half. So how you’re your government provide the services?
JOHNSON: No, no, no. You’re talking about a consumption tax that would — and I think we’re getting too in the weeds here. The bottom line is, is that we’re going to look to make this revenue neutral. And if it needs to be tweaked, you know, look, this is an open debate and discussion that we as Americans need to have.
Look, imagine life in this country without the IRS. Greatly simplified. The more money you make, the more money you consume. Or the more things you consume.
WELD: You know, I don’t think you have to go so far as to abolishing the IRS. I think if you give the people the sense that taxes are only going to go down — they may not go down a lot, but they’re not going to go up. And that’s something both Gary and I did. He cut taxes 14 times, never raised them. I cut taxes 21 times, never raised them.
The result was, in my case that when I took office, it was a recession, 1991. We had the highest unemployment rate of all 11 industrialized states. At the end of my first term, we had the lowest because businesses have the confidence — employers to build that plant next door.
So, you know, in terms of industrial policy, I may not be a zero, but I’m a four. I think you can make it possible for the winners to win where you have an advantage. In my case, biotech, telecom, software. We grew those industries in Massachusetts by paying attention to them. And the same could happen at the federal level.
CUOMO: Let’s bring in Molly Smith. She’s a student…
JOHNSON: And if you adopted one federal consumption tax, guess what? If you did away with the IRS, 80 percent of Washington lobbyists would go away, because that’s why they’re there, to garner special tax favor.
CUOMO: Molly Smith, student at NYU, hasn’t decided who she’s going to vote for yet, has a question.
QUESTION: Hi. Similarly to Donald Trump’s recent identification as a Republican, you both have only recently formally identified yourselves as Libertarian. Can you tell us what you have done specifically while you’ve been in office that has been consistent with Libertarian ideals?
JOHNSON: I’d like to think that it was everything in office. You know, being fiscally conservative, over the top, and always standing up for choice, always coming down on the side of choice.
QUESTION: Can you be more specific?
JOHNSON: Well, I maybe was more outspoken than any governor in the country regarding school choice. Really, I think that we should bring competition to public education. I would like to get the federal government out of education, allowing state dollars to be spent in those states as opposed to making a detour in Washington where you send money 13 cents to Washington and it come back 11 cents and then it come back with mandates. The war on drugs. Look, we have tens of millions of Americans in this country who are convicted felons that but for our drug laws would otherwise be tax-paying, law-abiding citizens.
WELD: In office, in my case, even though I was then a Republican and not a Libertarian, I cut the state budget 14 percent my first two months in office. I was voted the most fiscally conservative governor in the United States by the Wall Street Journal in 1992. A couple years later, Gary Johnson was voted that. Of course, I had left office by then.
And I was — you know, way out there by myself on gay and lesbian rights, starting my first month in office, in January 1991. And for 10 years, no one followed suit. I appointed the woman who wrote the decision holding equality of marriage as constitutionally compelled, which led to the Supreme Court case holding that. I was the leader on the pro-choice movement, as well. So almost all of my actions in office foreshadowed my eventual formal Libertarian status.
JOHNSON: I may have vetoed more legislation than the other 49 governors in the country combined. And a lot of that was crony capitalism. A lot of that was spending in ways that in my opinion were political, as opposed to actually addressing the issues themselves. Government is for sale. I think my two terms as governor of New Mexico really just kicked crony capitalism, kicked corruption completely out the door.
CUOMO: Let’s bring in Ahmad Greene. He’s from New Jersey. Currently undecided. Ahmad?
QUESTION: Good evening. My question is — it has been repeatedly sated by numerous Libertarian candidates in the media that they respect but do not endorse the Black Lives Matter movement. Others have said that they do not support the movement for black lives entirely. Where do you stand on supporting, protecting, and upholding the human and civil rights of black people and people of African dissent in the United States and across the diaspora? Thank you.
WELD: If I could, again, this may not be Republican dogma, but what I did very early on in my administration was to establish an African Caribbean American commission, meet with them once a month myself, not a cabinet secretary. All your concerns, anything we can do specifically, same for Asian-Americans, same for Hispanic-Americans, met regularly with Muslim and Arab community. My wife read from the Koran in Arabic to them.
So, you know, I received the Golden Door Award for, you know, friendliness to various diasporas who were resident in our state. So that comes very naturally to me. I’m a pluralist. I think the essence of democracy is that the individual shall not be thrust in a corner. If there are members of groups who by virtue of their membership in that group are being thrust in a corner, that’s when my blood temperature really starts to rise.
CUOMO: Governor, how do you speak to this issue from this perspective of Ahmad’s context, which is that Libertarians haven’t traditionally embraced the Black Lives Matter movement. Would you and why?
JOHNSON: Yes. Well, I do. And I’ll come back to the drug war. If you’re of color, there’s a four times more likelihood that you’ll end up behind bars than if you’re not of color. And I think so much of “shoot first” has to do — has its roots in the drug war. Knock the door down and shoot.
CUOMO: Well, please, continue.
JOHNSON: Well, it’s huge, and we’d like to bring an end to the drug war, and by that treat the issue as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue.
CUOMO: Last question. Alex Zacharias, he’s from Palm Beach, Florida, and he has not decided yet who he’s voting for. What’s your question?
QUESTION: Governor, in your opinion, what do you feel is the greatest challenge facing our country’s next president?
JOHNSON: I think it is the fact that government tries to accomplish too much and, in doing that, it taxes too much, and so we have some real issues with entitlements that — look, nobody is addressing the fact that there does need to be reform to Social Security, there does need to be reform to Medicaid and Medicare.
And that’s not to say that we’re not going to provide safety nets and provide services that people do need. But, look, if we’re going to bury our heads in the sand over these issues, that’s not what we’re about. There’s a truth here. These issues have to be addressed. It’s an economic catastrophe. And we’ll address them.
CUOMO: Do you have a plan for what to do with entitlements, Social Security, mainly?
JOHNSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, looking at Social Security, you know, there are reforms to Social Security that need to take place. One would be raising the retirement age. Another would be to…
CUOMO: To 75, you’ve suggested. Do you think you could get that done?
JOHNSON: Well, I’m not giving a number here. This is something that Congress is going to have to — have to come up with. Let’s remember that when Social Security was adopted that nobody lived to the age of — 55 was the average age of an American. And nobody was going to even live to collect it in the first place.
WELD: If I can answer the question in one sentence, I think the paramount duty of the next administration is to bring the country together. I think people’s teeth are set on edge against each other as groups. A lot of the reason is Republican versus Democrat. Gridlock in Washington. Hyper gerrymandering. And I think the next president has to rise above that, as did President Eisenhower, President Reagan, make us all feel good about being Americans.
JOHNSON: And I hope — I hope it’s obvious. Look, we’re proposing to do this as a team. We’re not going to have separate staffs. That divides the two of us. And it’s two for the price of one.
WELD: Well, it’s two for the price of two. But even that is a bargain in today’s politics.
CUOMO: Spoken as a politician there on that one. Credit to you here tonight and the audience, have covered over a dozen of the issues that matter most to the American people right now. For the purposes of introduction, a couple quick personal questions, as well. This is the first time, Governor, we’ve been together, and you have shoes on. You almost always have sneakers on every time I see you.
JOHNSON: I always have sneakers on. And I just — you know, everybody in my campaign is just — don’t blow it with the shoes.
WELD: Not me. I didn’t say anything.
JOHNSON: Bill didn’t say anything.
CUOMO: But it’s a nod to the fact that you’re not just like an athlete in the gym. You have achieved things athletically that most people wouldn’t even want to consider. What have you done? And why have you done it?
JOHNSON: Well, what I’ve done is I’ve put one foot in front of the other, Chris. What…
CUOMO: At like 100 miles at a time. I’m saying, tell the people what it is that you do? You’re not like jogging around the block with your dog.
JOHNSON: Well, I’ve had the good fortune to climb the highest mountain on each of the seven continents. I’ve probably competed in 300 athletic events, and some of them have been real monsters. I’ve competed in Hawaii Iron Man four times. I have run 100 miles, was talking earlier about doing the Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim.
CUOMO: Hardest thing you’ve ever done?
JOHNSON: Hardest thing I have ever done? It was bicycling 600 miles in 36 hours.
CUOMO: Boy, you know that you’re a real athlete when the hardest thing you’ve ever done is not running for president of the United States. That’s how you know when you’re really into your sports.
Governor Weld, a lot of people will probably know that you were a two-term governor in Massachusetts, but you’re also a novelist. If you were — you couldn’t — even you as a novelist couldn’t make up what we’re living through in this election right now.
WELD: Not this year. Nobody would buy it.
CUOMO: That’s my suggestion. But if you were writing it, what would you title the novel about the 2016 election?
WELD: Oh, boy. I don’t know. “Monkey Business”?
CUOMO: That might be taken. All right, let’s take a — I want to thank you both, first of all, for being here. Again, 12 major issues were covered tonight. Give yourselves a round of applause for bringing…
CUOMO: Governors, thank you very much.
JOHNSON: Thank you.
CUOMO: I hope you recognize the opportunity and enjoyed taking the time. I know it was a pleasure for us here at CNN. And, of course, everybody in the audience and at home, as well, that’s what makes these events special and useful.
So thanks for all of you watching. “CNN Tonight” with Don Lemon is going to start right now.