Gary Johnson on immigration, domestic and foreign policy

Libertarian Party presidential nominee answers questions from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," June 6, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: We haven't done it in a while, but welcome to our Center Seat. And we welcome Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Governor, thanks for being here.


BAIER: Listen, Donald Trump has called you "a total fringe deal, a fringe candidate and disgraceful," in his words. Here is the Real Clear Politics. When you are added to polls, this is the average of polls, you are at roughly 8.5 percent. We had a poll that had you at 10 percent. For people looking out there, we are going to go over some of the issues you are running on with your running mate, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld. How do you do this? Paint the picture of how you win the presidency.

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I think Donald Trump had it nailed when he called me and Bill Weld fringe candidates, perfectly nailed. Republican governor serving in deeply blue states, both getting reelected by bigger margins the second time than the first time, being fiscally conservative over the top and being socially tolerant, liberal. Totally fringe.

How do we win? It's being in the polls. "Investors' Business Daily" this afternoon came out with a poll at 11 percent which really is very heartening. The only chance we have of winning is to be in the presidential debate, which is 15 percent prescribed by the Presidential Debate Commission. The only way to get to 15 percent is to actually be included in all of these polls. Since my name has appeared in four presidential national polls, there have been another 40 polls where my name hasn't appeared. So really that's the key.

I think both of our records, Bill Weld's and myself, hold up under the scrutiny that go along with being at a recognized 10 percent, 12 percent,
15 percent. Doesn't go from zero to 15, it works its way up.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: If we could start on a relatively light, personal note. You have an interesting work history. As you say two-term governor to New Mexico, more recently the CEO of a marijuana products company.


KRAUTHAMMER: Until January, I think you did say at the time that you used the company's products. Are you still?

JOHNSON: I haven't used in probably about five weeks. And I have said that I'm not going to as president. I don't think you want somebody potentially answering that red phone. And then going forward, not using going forwards.

But as the CEO of a marijuana company, marijuana products medicinally directly compete with legal prescription painkillers that statistically kill 100,000 people a year. Not one documented death due to marijuana.
And I have always maintained that legalizing marijuana recreationally will lead to less overall substance abuse because it's so much safer than everything else out there, starting with alcohol. The campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado was based on marijuana is safer than alcohol.

KRAUTHAMMER: But you weren't using it medicinally, were you?

JOHNSON: No. I was using it recreationally. I think the unforgivable in any human being is hypocrisy, and I do want to be a hypocrite.

PACE: I don't know how to transition out of that.


JOHNSON: We'll go to other issues.

KRAUTHAMMER: I think it was a light note.

PACE: On immigration, President Obama took a lot of executive action, one that has some support among Republicans and pretty wide support among Democrats, prosecutorial discretion for the dreamers, the young people who were brought to this country by their parents and have gone to college, joined the military. What would you do with the dreamers if you were president? Would you allow them to stay without risking deportation?

JOHNSON: Yes, I would. And one untold story about Obama is he has broken up 3 million families. He has deported heads of households 3 million and broken up households.

Look, I think Donald Trump's statements on immigration are just, really, racist. Talking 11 million illegal immigrants, the deportation of 11 million immigrants I think is just crazy. Building a wall across the border. Look, we should make it as easy as possible for anyone who wants to come into the country to work and to be able to get a work visa. A work visa should entail a background check and a Social Security card that taxes get paid. They are not murderers and rapists.

PACE: In terms of people still in this country right now, how far do you extend prosecutorial discretion it if you couldn't get legislation passed on Capitol Hill?

JOHNSON: Well, look, as president of the United States, you shouldn't have to use executive order. It should be Congress. When he came out with the executive orders, I happen to agree with these executive orders, but I wish Congress were to act on all of this. It's, really when New Mexico, 48 percent Hispanic, what does an 11 million person crackdown amount to in New Mexico? Well, they knock on my door, and, oh, gee, you are the former governor. OK, you're OK. But they move to the next door because 50 percent of New Mexico is Hispanic. Let's see some papers.

CARLSON: What about illegal immigration. You just said you want to make it easier for people to come and work here. Since 2000, we have admitted legally immigrants for every job created. So what specifically is the right number we should admit every year?

JOHNSON: Get the government out of quotas. Look, they will either reach out --

CARLSON: So you're saying there should be no limit at all?

JOHNSON: No limit at all. There will either be jobs or there won't be jobs. And right now, an untold story is there's a reverse migration taking place right now. There are more jobs in Mexico right now than the U.S.

CARLSON: That's actually untrue. We are moving toward the highest level of foreign born people in the United States at any time in our history.

JOHNSON: But the jobs. The jobs aren't in the United States right now.
They are currently in Mexico. So you have, right now, you have got Mexicans going back across the border into Mexico because there's more jobs.

CARLSON: Then why are we getting 1.1 million illegal people coeing here every year, because there aren't jobs?

JOHNSON: I'm saying 1.1 million immigrants that are coming across the border illegally, that's a woman who is in Juarez. She can't get across the border legally, but yet there are jobs awaiting her in El Paso. So she's wading across the Rio Grande with her kids. Make it as easy as possible for her to come across and get the jobs that do exist. And they are not taking jobs that U.S. citizens want.

BAIER: Quickly, lightning round on the domestic issues. Taxes, are you for fair tax, flat tax, what? Whatever you can get through?

JOHNSON: Count on me as president of the United States to sign off on anything that makes taxes lower. Make them easier to comply with.
Ideally, if I could wave my magic wand, we would eliminate income tax, corporate tax, abolish the IRS, and replace all of that with one federal consumption tax. I ask everyone look at the fair tax for how you dot the i's and cross the t's on how to make that happen.

BAIER: Department of Education, no more?

JOHNSON: No more. The Department of Education gives each state 11 cents on every school dollar that every state spends but it comes with 15 cents worth of strings attached. People don't realize that the federal Department of Education, that it costs money to take money --

BAIER: So federal funding on education ends under President Johnson?

JOHNSON: I can't wave a magic wand here. I get to sign legislation that Congress presents me. They would have to present me with that legislation to abolish the federal Department of Education. Yes, I would sign it.

BAIER: And term limits?

JOHNSON: Term limits -- silver bullet. Come on, if you limit the terms of those that serve, they will do the right thing as opposed to whatever it takes to get reelected. And that's the problem that we have got.

Back to fair tax. Look, you implement zero corporate tax rate, you are going to issue pink slips to 80 percent of Washington lobbyists because that's why they are there, to garner tax favor.

BAIER: We move on to foreign policy a little bit more with Governor Johnson after a quick break.


BAIER: And we're back with our panel and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson in our Center Seat. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Last week on C-Span you said that rival candidate you most identify with is Bernie Sanders, a devout socialist. Is that mostly on social policy, or is it also on his, shall we say, isolationist foreign policy?

JOHNSON: Well, I reject the notion of being isolationist. I think that, first of all, if we're attacked, we're going to attack back. We need to involve Congress. They have an abdicated their responsibility to the president and the executive. And let's have a declaration of war. Let's have direction going forward.

We have treaties with many, many countries where we are obligated to defend their borders that have not been ratified by Congress. They have been executive treaties.

KRAUTHAMMER: Which of these would you rescind, which countries?

JOHNSON: I don't have the specifics. Actually I'm looking for the specifics right now, Charles.

BAIER: You did you say that North Korea, potentially, was the biggest threat.

JOHNSON: I think that is the case, North Korea being the biggest threat that at some point these intercontinental ballistic missiles are going to work. This is something that we need to join arm in arm with China to address. They recognize this threat more than anyone. The big threat that we pose in the area is that we got 40,000 troops in South Korea. The ability to get -- to remove those troops from South Korea and have China address the problem that exists in North Korea is something --

BAIER: That far exceeds in your mind the threat from radical Islam and terrorism?

JOHNSON: Yes. I believe that, yes. And that's not to downplay that threat either, but, interestingly, you know, there were 200 members of ISIS after 9/11. Today there are 40,000. I think it has to do with our military interventions. Troops on the ground, dropping bombs, flying drones that are killing thousands of innocent people, I think that that, a, adds or aids their recruiting efforts.

BAIER: But you know there are people who say that that's going to happen whether we are there or not. This is the whole argument about 9/11.

JOHNSON: And by the way, yes --

BAIER: And whether we were in Saudi Arabia or whether we weren't in Saudi Arabia, they were still going to attack us.

JOHNSON: If we are attacked, we are going to attack back. You can make the argument that we have been attacked by ISIS. This is something we should engage in.

PACE: Staying on this theme, there has been an interesting debate in both Republican and Democratic primaries about whether the U.S. is better off trying to push for dictators like Assad in the Middle East to be pushed out of power or whether we're actually better off with them there because in some ways they actually tamp down --

JOHNSON: Where I fall on this is the unintended consequences of our interventions, and that the unintended consequences have made things worse, not better.

PACE: So do you believe that we are better off having Assad be in power without this civil war happening?

JOHNSON: Well, you don't want to say for a second that you're better off because there are actions that are atrocious. But we replace the atrocious with equally as atrocious.

CARLSON: I have got to give you the Libertarian test. You have said as a Libertarian you believe that people ought to be able to make personal decisions without interference from the state, which is why you support gay marriage. And yet there are many, many millions of people in this country whose religion either allows or commands them to take more than one spouse under polygamy. That's a felony. If you marry the mothers of your various children, you get charged with a felony. Are you for legalizing polygamy?

JOHNSON: You know, I think that really is a states' issue.

CARLSON: On principle, why would that be a tough call for you?

JOHNSON: Well, because it ends up obfuscating the goal, which is smaller government. Really, it's about smaller government. It is about people being able to make their own choices.

CARLSON: Do you feel that way about gay marriage? Would you be comfortable with the states banning gay marriage?

JOHNSON: I would not.

CARLSON: Why are you comfortable with the state banning polygamy?

JOHNSON: I think that that is something that would ultimately, potentially derail -- it is personal choice, Tucker. It is personal choice. For a state to do that, a state can have at it.

BAIER: The Libertarian test, I like that, Tucker. Governor, stick with us if you would. That's it for the panel. Stay tuned for one more Q and A
back in the day with Governor Johnson.


BAIER: Finally tonight, one more word from Governor Johnson from the last presidential cycle. This one dealt with the Obama administration jobs plan. You may remember.


JOHNSON: My next door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this current administration.


BAIER: You just made your neighbor's dog very famous.


BAIER: They liked it in Orlando, governor. Are you going to use that one again?


BAIER: Maybe so. We will see if the 15 percent happens. Governor, thanks for the time.

JOHNSON: Oh, thank you so much. And Tucker, thank you for the tongue twister. Really appreciate it. I knew I could count on you.

CARLSON: From a former Libertarian.

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