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Libertarian could take Romney votes

Oct. 15, 2012 at 4:14 PM

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- With a close presidential race at hand, some Republican advisers are worried about Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson, they said.

Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, drew little attention as a candidate for the Republican nomination, and ridicule for his pro-marijuana position and advocacy of a 43 percent cut in military spending, but is on the ballot in every state except Michigan and Oklahoma as the Libertarian Party's candidate. This is worrisome to some Republican operatives who fear his appeal could take slivers of votes, in tight races, away from Republican candidate Mitt Romney, The New York Times reported Monday.

Although national GOP chairman Reince Priebus called Johnson a "non-factor," but Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert Gleason said he did not intend to give Johnson an easy opening to play Ralph Nader, who took votes away from Democratic Party candidate Al Gore in 2000, in Pennsylvania this year.

Challenges to Johnson's candidacy by Republicans in Iowa and Pennsylvania were rejected in court, and Libertarians suspect his potential tipping of the vote was the reason Republican state officials in Michigan blocked Johnson's candidacy after his paperwork was filed three minutes after the deadline, the newspaper said.

Both sides agree Johnson's anti-government and anti-spending stances could appeal to the youth vote, to fiscal conservatives and to followers of former Republican candidate Ron Paul. Roger Stone, a former Nixon and Reagan aide who split from the Republican Party over frustration with its positions on social issues, said he is advising Johnson at no charge, and offered in an email last month, "Republican blood will run in the streets b4 [before] I am done."

Johnson said he has no problem being viewed as a spoiler in the November election he calls "a debate between Coke and Pepsi." He regards himself as Perrier, he said.

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