GOP Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson Questions Enhanced Interrogation, U.S. Presence in Afghanistan

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," May 5, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


GARY JOHNSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: We need to understand that the corporate income tax is a double tax. That we all own the corporations and when income gets distributed to us we pay the tax on that.

So we have the highest corporate income tax in the world right now. Let's abolish it. Let's make it the way that it was to begin with. And that will literally create tens of millions of jobs overnight because this country will be the only place to establish, grow, build, and nurture business.


SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And that was GOP presidential candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, in tonight's GOP primary debate. We're in Greenville, South Carolina. And welcome back to this special edition of "Hannity."

And --

JOHNSON: And I appreciate you saving the best to last, Sean. Thank you.


HANNITY: Look, I didn't -- I think I they drew it out of a hat. I have no idea.


HANNITY: Well, good to see you, Governor. Thanks for being -- by the way what you just said there is dead on. And that is, corporations really don't pay taxes any way because they pass it on to consumers.

JOHNSON: Well, that's -- that was the way it was originally designed. Of course we've lost sight of that. And as a result of losing sight of that, that's why companies are offshore.

HANNITY: Yes. I was a little surprised -- obviously, we are all happy that we got Usama bin Laden on Sunday. But it is clear enhanced interrogations, black sites, rendition, played a vital role in gathering the intelligence. We always had the means but we needed the intelligence. Where is he? You would be against using.

JOHNSON: I don't know if it's so clear-cut. And we may disagree on this. But I think we're better than this. And I think is why we fight wars, is that we're not the country that tortures. I believe that.

HANNITY: All right. Do you -- all right, was sleep deprivation torture?

JOHNSON: Well, you know what? Sean, if -- sleep deprivation torture? I don't know. I don't know.

HANNITY: Because those are some of the techniques that they used. There were only three people -- we always talk about waterboarding, but slapping them in the face, sleep deprivation, some of these other techniques, we know were used at some of these black sites.

JOHNSON: Like I said, I think we're just going to end up disagreeing on this that we're better than this. And that --

HANNITY: Even if it means we wouldn't get bin Laden, though? I'm curious.

JOHNSON: Well, so -- and again, the other side of the argument here is, and this goes back seven years ago. And I know you recognize, there's no real clear string from waterboarding to getting Usama --

HANNITY: Actually I think it's pretty clear.

JOHNSON: Well, but it was seven years.

HANNITY: In as much as this.

JOHNSON: If it was seven years how clear can that be?

HANNITY: Well, with the first intelligence came in that we found this courier, the courier had a nickname. We had to find his real name then we found his real name then that lead to where he was. Then we eavesdrop.

JOHNSON: This was a seven -- this was a seven-year --


JOHNSON: How many -- and again this is --

HANNITY: In other words bin Laden would be alive if not for these techniques.

JOHNSON: I hate going down this cul-de-sac. But how many enemies have we created which we can't answer? How many enemies have we created that are blowing themselves up because we torture them when they get caught?

HANNITY: Are you assuming the we -- that we were attacked on 9/11, that the first Trade Center attacks, the embassy bombings, USS Cole --

JOHNSON: No, no. I'm not -- I'm saying that at all, but -- what I am saying is that there is a consequence to all of our actions and we can't -- we can't tell you what that action is. What we should be doing when it comes to military intervention is really addressing threats to our national security.

HANNITY: But all these attacks happened. And the 9/11 Commission report said they were at war with us.

JOHNSON: And I agree.

HANNITY: OK. All right.

JOHNSON: And I've said before, I completely supported our going into Afghanistan to get bin Laden and al Qaeda. But I think after six months, we pretty well taken him out of Afghanistan.


HANNITY: So you think -- you think we should get out?

JOHNSON: I do think we should get out. We're building roads, schools, bridges, highways and hospitals in Iraq and Afghanistan. And we're borrowing 43 cents out of every dollar and worse yet, men and women are dying.

HANNITY: All right. I just have a hard time -- knowing that all these things played a success in getting bin Laden, you still don't think -- you don't think those methods are worth it?

JOHNSON: Do you -- but do you think --

HANNITY: I love when the presidential candidate starts asking me. Go ahead. I'll --

JOHNSON: No, but --



JOHNSON: But do you think for a second perhaps that if we weren't engaged on three fronts, that if our military was really focused on bin Laden that -- totally focused on bin Laden --

HANNITY: I think we were. I mean --

JOHNSON: Well, back to resources. There's that argument, Sean. And I know you accept the arguments.

HANNITY: All right.

JOHNSON: There is that possibility. So open yourself up to the notion that we really do keep -- we remain vigilant to the terrorist threat, which is what we should do. But maybe we've taken our eye off the ball here and maybe we're nation-building and trying to determine --

HANNITY: I get the -- yes --


HANNITY: I thought you make a good point about building roads, schools, bridges, infrastructure when we're borrowing 40 cents of every dollar.


JOHNSON: Again, we those --

HANNITY: Yes, no, I think that's a valid point. And I think, you know, fiscal conservatives like myself are saying, you know, at some point we got to stop. But I think we also the first job of government role is to keep America safe.

JOHNSON: Absolutely. And I would just argue that there wasn't a military threat from Iraq. I would have argued that we had the military surveillance capability to see them roll out any weapons of mass destruction. If they were to have done that we could have gone in and addressed it. But it -- I thought if we went in we'd find ourselves in a civil war to which there would be --

HANNITY: By the way, I was really hoping when they brought up the issue that you had smoked marijuana that you would have said, I did -- yes, but I didn't inhale. I just -- I would have -- it would have been a good line.

JOHNSON: Well, what I did do, and it got me in a little bit of hot water in New Mexico, because I did say I didn't exhale.

HANNITY: Is that what you said?



HANNITY: Well -- you were very passionate. And you made an interesting argument, I thought, when the issues of drug legalization and abortion came up. You kind of were making the case that maybe it didn't appeal to some of the primary voters that are conservative but it did appeal in the general election.

I want you to expand on that a little bit more.

JOHNSON: Well, I understand that this is a contest. And I'm putting myself up as the spokesperson for the Republican Party.

I think that -- and by the way, I really enjoyed the debate tonight. I thought it was terrific. I thought Fox did a great job.


JOHNSON: I thought everybody was well prepared. The questions were different.

HANNITY: I thought so, too.

JOHNSON: They brought out differences in all the candidates, and, you know, terrific.


JOHNSON: A-plus, yes.


JOHNSON: Yes, terrific. So in that context, you know when you talk about drugs, legalizing marijuana, this is an issue that does really well when you shine a little bit of light on it. When people and families discuss it at the dinner table at night, it's a topic that does well with that discussion.

Look, we're not condoning drug use here. But as a family, wouldn't we rather be dealing with any problems associated with drug use as a family rather than having it subject to the -- to the criminal justice system?

HANNITY: I don't think I can ever interview you, we sort of don't get into this debate. But we really appreciate you being with us.

JOHNSON: Yes, thank you.

HANNITY: It was a fun debate tonight. Thank you very much.

JOHNSON: Thank you very much.

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