Drug Maverick Comes Out Swinging at GOP Prez Debate

By Maer Roshan 09/23/11

The once-shunned GOP presidential candidate made a splash at his first debate last night, but not for his progressive positions on drug-reform.

Johnson: Finally Ready For Prime Time? photo via

After being virtually ignored by most of his competitors, maverick Republican candidate Gary Johnson finally made a splash last night in a GOP presidential debate hosted by the fair and balanced folks at Fox News. We tuned in hoping to hear Johnson get a chance to voice his progressive views on  hot-button drug issues. Like libertarian Ron Paul, Johnson supports harm reduction and pot legalization. He is bitterly opposed to the imprisonment of so many American citizens on drug charges, and he has also famously denounced the US war on drugs as "an expensive bust." And while the Florida Republican party strenuously objected to inclusion of the three-term former New Mexico governor—who regularly polls at about 1% (no worse than John Huntsman or Rick Santorum)—the dark horse delivered the biggest laugh line of the night. "My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this administration," he quipped, winning guffaws from the same audience that booed a gay US soldier asking a question on YouTube. (It later emerged that Johnson stole the joke from far-right radio host Rush Limbaugh, as Johnson tweeted post-debate). But to The Fix's frustration, the minor matter of America's addiction epidemic didn't meet Fox's Obama-bashing agenda. Still, Johnson's little comedic turn is likely to up his entertainment quotient—and his chance of getting an invite to future debates—if not his polling. To learn more about Johnson's drug-reform positions, check out our exclusive interview with the candidate here.

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Maer Roshan is an American writer, editor and entrepreneur who has launched and edited a series of prominent magazines and websites, including FourTwoNine.com, TheFix.com, NYQ, Punch!, Radar Magazine and Radaronline.com. You can find him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.