Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson said Thursday he's optimistic he'll reach the 15 percent level of support he needs to take his place on the presidential debate stage with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but said his chances would be better if he would be included in a more prominent location on the nation's polls.
"Right now, the issue is that all of the polling asks about Trump and Clinton, and then 99 percent of the media reports only that top line," Johnson told CNN's "Legal View With Ashleigh Banfield" program. "I think if we were included in the top line, as Johnson/Trump/Clinton, we'd be at 20 percent. A lot of that has to do with how polarizing the two of them are. But that's the issue right now. We need to be top line on the polls."
Johnson, a former two-time governor of New Mexico, told the program that he and running mate Bill Weld have a pledge to cut federal spending by 20 percent in their first 100 days in office if elected.
"Of course, you can't do that without addressing the entitlements, Medicaid and Medicare," said Johnson. "I think those two functions have to devolve to the states, what I call 50 laboratories of innovation and best practice, and you'd actually see best practice that would get emulated. You'd also see some failure that would get avoided."
Reforms are also needed for Social Security, said Johnson, including raising the retirement age and doing fair means testing, meaning "you should get back more money from Social Security than what you paid in, given a certain level of income."
The budget also can't be balanced without reducing military spending, said Johnson, and he would ensure that would happen without compromising the national defense.
"The Pentagon itself says that we could cut U.S. bases by 20 percent," said Johnson. "I'm going to extend that to foreign bases also."
There have been some people who have said they won't support Trump, but they are wary of Johnson over his stance on legalizing marijuana, CNN noted. However, Johnson said he has had the same opinion that marijuana should be legalized for years, and also, he believes the nation's drug laws have caused millions of Americans to become convicted felons, rather than tax paying, law-abiding citizens.
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