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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Libertarian Town Hall Meeting. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired August 3, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ABDERSON COOPER, CNN: Good evening and welcome to the second CNN Libertarian Town hall, I'm Anderson Cooper. Tonight, your chance to meet the candidates behind the party that's promising voters a different choice this November.
NARRATOR: In a tough-talking campaign -
CLINTON: Temperamentally unfit.
TRUMP: Crooked Hillary.
NARRATOR: He's talking moderation.
JOHNSON: How 'bout a couple of guys in the middle -
NARRATOR: Gary Johnson and running mate Bill Weld -- two former governors with a single philosophy.
GARY JOHNSON, LIBERTARIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are fiscally conservative - over the top. We're socially liberal.
NARRATOR: The question now: can a polarized country come together behind that message, and get behind these candidates?
JOHNSON: I wouldn't be doing this if there weren't the opportunity to win.
NARRATOR: But first they've got to get the numbers to make the debates.
JOHNSON: We have to be at 15 percent in the polls.
NARRATOR: If they make it to the debate stage, then what? Could they make it to the White House? Or will they just play spoiler to either Clinton or Trump?
JOHNSON: It's your choice.
NARRATOR: Your choice. Your decision. Your questions. Tonight.
(END OF VIDEO)
COOPER: And welcome to all of you, joining us here in New York, across the country and watching around the world. We're being simulcast on CNN International, CNN En Espanol, CNN Go and Sirius XM Satellite Channel 116. This is our second Libertarian Town hall and no small part because of the growing interest in a third party alternative.
New polling just out tonight shows 12 percent support for Libertarian Nominee Gary Johnson in a three way race with us here tonight some of those voters. Republicans, Democrats (audio gap) all of whom they say they will not be voting for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or they haven't made up their minds.
They've got questions, can the Libertarians provide better answers than what the other parties have been giving so far. We'll see in the hour ahead. As always, the questions come mainly from the audience. We've looked them over to make sure they don't overlap.
I'll ask a couple questions myself, but mostly staying out of the way. Let's get right to it. Joining us right now the Libertarian nominee former Governor Gary Johnson from New Mexico and his running mate, former Governor William Weld of Massachusetts.
COOPER: So before we get to the audience questions, I do want to start off with a couple of questions, really out of the headlines today. We talked about this new poll, Fox News poll shows you at 12 percent, that's only a three way poll.
The last CNN poll which was a four way poll with Jill Stein, showed you at nine percent that's the last time you were here. In our last four way CNN poll which came out just on Monday, still have you at nine percent. What do you think you need to gain momentum? What more do you need to do?
JOHNSON: Well, this interview right here is going to push us over 17, I'm sure. Thank you. Thank you very much.
COOPER: But it was nine percent before the last town hall and you're still at nine percent. I don't want to knock our ability to do that.
JOHNSON: No, it's, it's ratcheting up, we're reaching 25 million people now, social media wise. And we're raising money, and of course that gives us the ability to push that out, and so all the analytics look really good.
COOPER: You know, there's been a number of high profile Republicans who've said they're not going to be voting for Donald Trump. You just had Meg Whitman, who's a Republican donor, she now says she's supporting Hillary Clinton.
Obviously, you saw Mike Bloomberg who was the Independent, as a Mayor of New York, speaking at the Democratic Convention for Hillary Clinton. It's got to be frustrating for you, that, I mean that, Bloomberg didn't look at you. That Meg Whitman didn't look at you. What is your message to Republicans out there watching tonight?
JOHNSON: Well two former Republican governors, that got re- elected in heavily Democrat states, I think that speaks volumes. I'm not really frustrated. I'm just understanding how difficult it is to cross over the line if you're an elected Republican or if you've been a former elected Republican.
COOPER: Governor Weld?
BILL WELD, LIBERTARIAN VICE PRES. CANDIDATE: Well I think the message to Republicans is that we were two of the most fiscally responsible, i.e.; conservative governors in the United States when we served together, back in the 90s. Gary and I were good friends then, we're good friends now.
But we were each rated the fiscally most conservative governor in the United States and that takes some doing. We are socially inclusive, tolerant, whatever word you want. In fact, we've been leaders on those issues. I was all by myself for a decade.
COOPER: Early 90s as I remember.
WELD: 90s. Very early 90s.
COOPER: '91, I think it was.
WELD: Right when I came into office. So we stand for the proposition, as I said at the Republican Convention in Houston in 1992. We want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom. And I tell you the polling shows that a majority of Americans think that. So --
COOPER: So what is it? Is it just a question of publicity? Is it a question of people just don't know what the Libertarians are?
WELD: The idea that we should not be at those debates expressing what's a majority point of view in the country can only be laid at the door of the two party monopoly, the duopoly that has a stranglehold on power in Washington. That's the R's and the D's who sometimes seem to exist mainly for the expressed purpose of killing each other.
COOPER: Let's talk about the Republicans a little bit more because obviously there's huge divisions right now within the Republican party. We just saw, and have seen yesterday, Donald Trump refusing Paul Ryan, refusing to endorse John McCain. Do you see this as an opportunity for you, what's happening in the Republican side?
JOHNSON: Well, it's really both sides. I just posed the question if either Trump or Clinton are elected that things will be more polarized than ever. Neither side is going to get along with the other. And what if you elect a couple of former Republican governors, two-term, re- elected, running as Libertarians? What if you elect them as president, vice president, calling out both sides?
COOPER: How can you -- if you're calling out both sides, how can you bring things together in Washington? How can you do what Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump...
WELD: I think it might be refreshing to have a party that was not terribly partisan holding the White House. We would hire the best people from the Democratic Party that we could find, the smartest people from the Republican party that we could find, the best people in the Libertarian party. Our proposals out of the White House would not say take that you stupid "D" party, or you stupid "R" party.
It would be, you know, here's what we think this is, maybe, kind of in the middle. Could we kind of come together around this, and the recipients of that information would not feel attacked, so they might be more likely to come to the table because they wouldn't feel like they were going to be made fools of.
JOHNSON: We're also proposing something unique, I believe, in that we're planning to do this as a partnership.
COOPER: What is that? How does that...
JOHNSON: Well, how does it work? Not having separate staffs, not being divided, but really two heads for the price of one, and that it would be a plus for the country believing that.
WELD: It helps that we've known each other for 20 years, and sort of chose each other a long time ago. Friends, and then again more recently.
JOHNSON: This guy was my role model becoming governor. Really, I hold him up on a pedestal, so having him on the ticket is beyond my wildest dreams.
COOPER: I want to hear about your vision of America right now because we've just come out of the two conventions where we heard very different visions of America. Donald Trump's vision of how things are right now, and certainly Hillary Clinton's as well. How do you see where America's at?
JOHNSON: I don't think life in America has ever been better. I mean, we get along better, we communicate better, our kids are smarter than ever. We've got issues. I mean, when you look at Black Lives Matter, when you look at the discrimination that is existing, that has existed. I think we're coming to grips with that, we're communicating better than we've ever communicated before. So, we're going to come to grips with this.
We do have issues, but we need to address them. So optimism, optimism.
WELD: The country's in a fine place, and it's still the envy of the world. People envy our rule of law, and our economy, and the way we conduct ourselves in general. But, there's an elephant in the room which is the paralysis in Washington as a result of the ferocious hatred of the two parties for each other, and I think it's getting in the way of effective policy being made.
COOPER: But, I don't know -- understand how you get over that. I know you say you'll hire the best Democrats, you'll hire Republicans, but when you have conservatives who believe any form of compromise is compromising on principles. That's the long gap. JOHNSON: Some people are that way. They're probably not going to be members of our coalition if they think they can't compromise on anything at all. We were red governors in blue states, and we had to in order to balance the budget, which not everybody wanted to do. We had to reach across the aisle which people in Washington have shown precious little appetite to do, ever since the 1994 election.
COOPER: So, when Donald Trump says, "Make America Great Again," do you believe America is...
JOHNSON: Is great. Never been better, and that isn't to say that we don't have issues, but we should be dealing with those issues.
COOPER: Governor Johnson, you originally said that if you had to describe Hillary Clinton in one word, the word you would use was beholden. Who's she beholden to?
JOHNSON: Well, when you look at -- really, it's just not coincidence, I don't think, the Bill Clinton and Hillary both are making huge amounts of money with these speaking fees. There are others that look at this, Anderson. I don't want to throw rocks at this, but really it's a pay to play. It's just not...
COOPER: ... Beholden to big money donors, beholden to Wall Street?
JOHNSON: Well, their own interests, if you will, that they're making money off of this. That they're making money off of this. That as secretary of state, Bill goes out, does a million dollar speaking gig and then the next day, Hillary signs an agreement with the sponsor of that speaking gig, and, you know, that's not good.
That's beholden, if you want to say that. It smacks of pay-to- play. And I think it goes beyond just smacks of pay-to-play, that it is really something that's out there.
COOPER: Governor Weld, I know you've known Hillary Clinton for a long time. I think you shared an office once long ago. Do you agree with that assessment? Is she beholden?
WELD: Well, I think what Gary said is factually accurate. My principle beef with the Democratic proposals coming out of the convention is the trillion dollar tax hike, that's with a T. The Tax Policy Center cost it out, Mrs. Clinton proposed tax hike, at $1.1 trillion.
And, you know, like I said, Gary and I both balanced the budget, in fact, cut the budget. And I cut taxes 21 times. He cut taxes 14 times. And the unemployment picture greatly improved as a result of that.
And that I think is the way to go. The Democrats are going to have a very hard time avoiding increasing the $20 trillion nation debt that we'll have when President Obama leaves office. In fact, it looks as though it will go in the other direction.
COOPER: All right. When you were asked to describe Donald Trump in one word, the word you picked was "huckster." Do you still -- is that still the word you would use? WELD: Yes. I think he is a -- you know, he is a showman, he's a pied
piper, he's the music man. But more recently, it has gotten a little bit more serious and the noun that comes to my mind is a screw loose. And...
COOPER: You really think so. WELD: No, no, I do, I do. It's a temperamental question. And I say this almost with affection for Donald Trump. Maybe he should consider some other line of work. Like anything other than president of the United States.
COOPER: Governor Johnson, do you agree? That he has a screw loose? Or that...
JOHNSON: Well, what we would both like to talk about is, was there anything that Hillary didn't promise in her speech the other night? And then with regard to Donald Trump, just starting off with immigration.
We're a country of immigrants. We should be embracing immigration. We shouldn't be talking about restricting it. And then when he talks about killing the families of Muslim terrorists, when he talks about free trade but in the next sentence he says I'm going to force Apple to make their iPads and their iPhones in the United States, and that we should apply a 35 percent tariff on imported goods, well, who pays for that?
COOPER: That's not a libertarian principle.
JOHNSON: It's not at all. And I think that, unfairly, the world has really connected crony capitalism and free trade. They've kind of -- the thought is, is that it's one and the same, when in fact it's opposite. So we're all about free trade.
COOPER: We want to talk about that issue and a lot more coming up. Stay right where you are. When we come back, questions from the audience, at the "CNN Libertarian Town Hall." We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back. Welcome back to the Libertarian presidential ticket. Gary Johnson and William Weld. Time now for questions from the audience. I would like you both to meet Kimberly Munley, she was one of the responding civilian police officers at Fort Hood.
She helped put an end to the mass shooting there that left 13 people dead. She was shot three times in exchange of gunfire. Her femoral artery was severed. Her knee was shattered in more than 120 pieces.
She is currently the president of Step Up for Soldiers, which is a non-profit that helps disabled veterans adjust to a post-war environment. She is an independent and she's undecided.
QUESTION: Thank you. My question is since the November 5th, 2009, attack, there have been numerous attacks since then, both Stateside and abroad. And my question is, what is your view on the threat of Islamic terrorism? And how do you plan on keeping our citizens safe and fight threat while downsizing our military force numbers?
JOHNSON: Well, a couple of things. There's a recent poll came out last week among active military personnel, which I thought was really significant, who they favored to be president of the United States. And Johnson/Weld was favored 39 percent, Trump 31, and Clinton 20.
So, hey, we are at war with terrorism. And we will do everything we can to protect the United States from that threat. But we're not going to support regime change, believing that our military interventions, when it comes to regime change, has led to the unintended consequence of making things worse, not better. COOPER: What about the threat, I mean, here at home? Just today a D.C. transit police officer was charged with helping ISIS. Do you have a plan for dealing with...
WELD: That's the lone wolf problem. The person, the copycat, you know, taking cues from ISIS. And I proposed a 1,000 FBI agent task force, similar to task forces that we had in the Justice Department when I was there under President Reagan.
We had one for organized crime called the Organized Crime Strike Forces. And we took out the top three echelons of organized crime by concentrating all the knowledge in one place, and tips and hotlines. And you amass the evidence necessary to get either a search warrant or some form of surveillance to make the case to take out the network.
And you know, the tragedy in the Omar Mateen case in Orlando, at the nightclub, was that that man had been interrogated twice by the FBI. And when they couldn't make an airtight case on him, they dropped his name from the list.
So he disappeared from view. That would not have happened in the days when we were fighting organized crime or even the Enron task force. So that's something very specific you could do that has been done by the Justice Department in the past.
COOPER: But I've seen you talk about 20 percent budget reductions across the board of the government, would that include the FBI? And if it includes the military, to the question, how do you cut a military budget at the same time as...
JOHNSON: The Pentagon itself says that we can cut 20 percent of U.S. bases. That's the Pentagon.
COOPER: That's bases inside the United States. JOHNSON: Yes.
COOPER: Which gets into politics.
JOHNSON: Exactly. It gets into politics. That's, I think, brings up the topic of term limits, and if term limits existed I think elected officials would do the right thing as opposed to whatever it takes to get re-elected. But, big contributing factor to why that's not happening.
COOPER: But, traditionally, Libertarians, you know, are not about intervention in foreign lands. If -- you know, dealing with Syria, dealing with ISIS, doesn't that require boots on the ground?
WELD: What I was talking about was purely domestic...
COOPER: ... Domestic, yeah.
WELD: ... Lone wolf. You say, "Wouldn't that be expensive?" Yeah. But, it's a top national priority to defeat ISIS and it's copycat-ers in this country, so you do a supplemental appropriation for a thousand FBI agents. Does that cost money? Yeah, it costs money, but you do what you have to do.
Abroad, I think, you know? It's a tougher fight. I mean, if it's obvious ISIS training platform in South Yemen, and you have a complacent, or willing local government, maybe drones is the way to take that out. If it's isolated people, you know, roaming around in hills and caves in Afghanistan, much, much less appealing.
If it's, as Gary was saying, you know, regime change in Syria or Lebanon where the people we throw in with turn out to be aligned with ISIS that's extremely unappealing.
COOPER: Would you have gone after Osama Bin Laden? Would you have... JOHNSON: Yes. Would have gone in after Osama Bin Laden, and after seven months we'd defeated -- we defeated Al Qaeda, we should have gotten out. We should have gotten out with the caveat that we'll come back if Osama Bin Laden raises his head.
And, I think we should get out of Afghanistan now, and as difficult as that will be the consequences being, you could argue, will be horrible, those same consequences are going to exist 20 years from now, if that's when we decide to get out, or for some that we'll just stay there forever.
COOPER: Even if it means the Taliban coming back, you still say get out of Afghanistan?
JOHNSON: The Taliban is there, and I think we're kidding ourselves if we think hanging around there forever, unless we plan to be there forever.
WELD: The argument that those 8,400 troops have to stay there proves too much because the rejoinder is how long are they supposed to stay there? Forever? COOPER: I want you to meet Eddie Moy (ph), he's a marketing manager from Brooklyn. Right now he's leaning toward voting for Secretary Clinton in November. Welcome, Eddie.
QUESTION: Good evening. My question is do you think that civilians in the United States should be allowed to purchase and own semi-automatic weapons like AK-47's, or AR-15's?
JOHNSON: Right now that is a category of weapon that encompasses 30 million weapons, semi-automatic. That's 30 million rifles. So, let's just say we passed a law that outlawed semi-automatic rifles.
I think you'd have maybe half of those rifles turned in, and the other half would be 15 million of those rifles would be owned by law abiding citizens that are now going to become criminals. I just -- I think it's a misunderstood issue.
There are no automatic rifles currently allowed for sale. That went away decades ago.
COOPER: So no change in the sale of semi-automatics? The AR-15s should still be made available?
JOHNSON: Well, AR-15 is a class of weapon of which 30 million, there's 30 million semi-automatic rifles.
COOPER: So, no change?
COOPER: I want to bring in Christopher Amato (ph), he's an actor from the Bronx, he's a registered Independent. He's voting for you this year. QUESTION: Good evening, governors. My question is the most frequent argument I come across when telling people about you is that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote, or even worse, a helpful vote for either Trump or Hillary.
So, what is your response to the idea that a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote, or helpful to one of the two major party candidates, and why is a vote for your ticket not a wasted vote?
JOHNSON: Well, a wasted vote is voting for somebody that you don't believe in. And, if we're going to continue to vote for the lesser of two evils that's still evil.
COOPER: Governor Weld?
WELD: Well, as Gary likes to say, you know, we have no problem with people casting a wasted vote. If we get in the debates we're going to win this whole thing. If you want to waste your vote on Trump or Clinton, be our guest.
COOPER: But you both talked about your displeasure with the Trump campaign. If, at the end of the day, you pull away enough Clinton votes to actually give the presidency to Donald Trump, would that be OK with you, governor?
WELD: You know, at this point, that's pure speculation, and you know, we believe in ourselves and our ticket, and we're voting Libertarian.
COOPER: I want you to meet Jennifer Pelton. She's a lawyer, registered Republican from Westchester County. She said she leans Libertarian. She likes you. She's still not sure if she's even going to make it to the polls in November.
QUESTION: Thank you for -- both for being here. I would like to ask both of you, who has been the biggest inspiration for your views and how has this person influenced you?
JOHNSON: Well, I've got a lot of role models. My role models are those that have been successful in business. I was really disillusioned when it came to politics. Having never been involved politics before, I found out that my supposed role models weren't necessarily role models. They were individuals more concerned about getting reelected than not getting reelected.
So Thomas Jefferson, though, in the category of role models. Here was somebody who was genuinely humble in the office. And that's something that I also pledge, is to bring an end to the imperial presidency.
We'll be great stewards at the office but we're not getting elected king and dictator here.
COOPER: Governor Weld, who...
WELD: I was going to say Thomas Jefferson as well, because of the restraint with which he approached government. He said that government is best which governs least. And the sum of good government is to restrain men from injuring one another.
And he was not somebody out to stake a big empire for himself. Quite the contrary. I wrote a piece for the newspapers not long ago saying that Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are just a pair of classic 19th- Century Jeffersonian liberals, which is what I think our political pedigree really is.
COOPER: All right. Our next question is from Jaycie Cooper. As far as I know, no relation to me. She's a law office assistant from Monroe, Connecticut. And she says she's currently undecided.
QUESTION: Thank you for having me here tonight. My question is, the next president will likely need appoint a few Supreme Court justices. Could you elaborate on the type of judicial philosophy you would like to see in the next justice?
JOHNSON: Well, there wouldn't be a litmus test. And that you would look at a judge -- a potential judge as looking at the Constitution from the standpoint of original intent. So really, looking and following through with the U.S. Constitution.
Bill has got some opinions on this also.
COOPER: Yes, I mean, Governor Weld, you're a former prosecutor. Do you have a model? Is there a...
WELD: No. I don't have a model. I would look for the best legal minds I could find and the whole person. Two of my idols on the court were Hugo Black and Bill Douglas, W.O. Douglas, who you wouldn't have thought that they would be great justices when they got there.
But they were broad-gauge people who saw the whole picture and they dissented in an awful lot of cases where it was 7-2 votes against them. And they said, no, this shall not stand. This is not the right thing to do. And a lot of their dissents have been borne out in history.
But there are...
COOPER: Is there somebody on the current court that you admire?
WELD: You know, I would almost rather not pick current names out of the hat. I loved Black and Douglas and John Marshall Harlan and Frankfurter for different types of cases.
COOPER: OK. Our next question is from Ellis Jeter. He lives in New York City. He hasn't decided whether he's voting for you or for Secretary Clinton.
QUESTION: Hello. In my sophomore year of college, I was employed at the private religious college that I was attending when an anonymous person outed me to the school administration and my employer. And on the grounds of religious opposition to homosexuality, I both lost my job and was evicted from my off-campus rental.
What do you both believe the role of government is in regulating both religious freedom and civil liberties?
JOHNSON: Well, that there be a balance. And right now I fear that under the guise of religious liberty, that the LGBT community is being discriminated against. Recently weighed in on Utah's law, which I thought was really a balance between religious freedom and LGBT rights.
COOPER: Governor, when was it, back in '91, you were speaking out on this issue?
WELD: Well, I had worked a lot with the gay and lesbian community during the campaign. And one of my first executive orders, if not the first, was to confer visitation and bereavement rights upon gays and lesbians who were the partners of state workers.
I had jurisdiction to do that by executive order. You would have thought that I detonated explosives, it was so far out there.
WELD: Then I said -- we had a rash of teenage suicides in Massachusetts from gays and lesbians in high school who had literally committed suicide because they were bullied and harassed so much because of their sexual orientation. I thought that was a problem worthy of systemic examination.
So, I appointed this commission under the leadership of a very dedicated fellow named David Lafontaine (ph), and they held hearings around the state and really aerated this issue.
Then, I appointed a whole bunch of lesbian gay judges. I think the first one was a woman. It's the first time a Massachusetts governor had used the "L" word. I said I'm so delighted to appoint so, and so, who's you know, prominently identifies herself as a lesbian, that she's going to give a voice to that segment of the community.
It was not very much, but I used to go to national governors meetings and people would laugh and say don't you realize -- the Democrats were kind of friendly with me, and they would say, don't you realize you're supposed to be all one thing, or all the other?
And that was a long time ago, but it's getting to the issue we were talking about today.
WELD: We don't think you have to be all one thing, or all the other, and we think we're right in the middle because we're this mix of these views that we talked about.
COOPER: On the whole issue of religious freedom, Governor Johnson, you made a comment recently. You said, full quote, you said, "The objective here is to say that discrimination is not allowed for by business. Obviously religious freedom is a category as just being a black hole." What did you mean by that?
JOHNSON: What is currently taking place with regard to religious freedom is the ability to discriminate against what I believe are the LGBT community. And, there can be a balance, I think, between the two, but I don't want to support discrimination in any form...
COOPER: ... Should somebody in a business who doesn't want to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, should they be allowed not to bake that cake?
JOHNSON: I think that currently is the law, that they have to do that. They have to decorate the cake? No they don't have to decorate the cake, but they have to sell the cake if the cake is for sale.
COOPER: And that to you, that's the correct...
JOHNON: ... Well, to me there should be no discrimination allowed, and I think that that is the current law, that discrimination is not allowed. But, I don't want to pass legislation that would allow for that kind of discrimination.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. More audience questions when we come back to the CNN Libertarian Debate. (APPLAUSE)
COOPER: And welcome back. This is CNN's second Libertarian Town hall. We're back with Gary Johnson, the party's Presidential nominee and his running mate William Weld. Want to continue the questions from the audience.
Before we do it, I want to ask, you've given an interview to our colleague Ryan Lizza and you detailed kind of an unorthodox path to victory. Basically, hoping to deprive Trump and Clinton of getting to 270 electoral votes to the throw the election to the House of Representatives.
JOHNSON: Our, our pathway to victory is to actually win it outright. And the idea there is to poll and to get in the Presidential debates, which --
COOPER: That's critical for you.
JOHNSON: Absolutely. There's no chance of winning without being in the Presidential debates and I've based that too on last week a projection that the first Presidential debate is going to garner more audience than the Super Bowl. Well you can't win the Presidency if you're not in that game. So, our, really our strategy is to win this thing outright and some extraordinary things have to happen. Has there ever been a more extraordinary political year in our lives?
COOPER: Yes. You picked a pretty interesting one to enter. Let's go back to the audience. Diane Carlson, she's from Inglewood, Colorado. She runs a group that aims to protect kids as marijuana becomes legalized. She's a Republican but she is still undecided in this race. Diane what's your question?
QUESTION: Governors, there's been very little understanding of the differences between low to zero THC potency marijuana. That's been associated with helping kids with seizures and helping adults with pain. Which is completely different from the high THC pot that has become the norm in Colorado.
And we know that you, you've, it's our understanding that you're supporting full blown nation wide marijuana commercialization. And like to know the specific steps that you'll take to insure that our nation's youth are educated on the risks of today's high potency pot? And also wanted to know if you'll be supportive of potency limits on all forms of marijuana?
JOHNSON: Well you're talking about kids with seizures. I was talking with a researcher in Washington state, where a young lady, a 12 year old, was having 300 epileptic seizures a week. She was given 40 milligrams of CBD and the seizures went from 300 to 30.
But then she was given whole plant CBD, whole plant, which contains THC, and the seizures went to two. So that's something, you know what. What we need to do is deschedule marijuana as a Class one narcotic. There needs to be research and development on marijuana. And in no way are we supporting kids being about to use marijuana, in no way shape of form.
COOPER: Should there be limits on the potency?
JOHNSON: Well, but as I was just pointing out. Because CBD doesn't contain any THC, legislatures around the country are embracing it because it's a dramatic improvement, 300 seizures to 30 seizures. But if you go to whole plant CBD, which contains THC, the seizures may be eliminated completely.
QUESTION: Governor, you're talking about CBD oil, which is completely different than THC. And THC is what has been associated to be harmful for developing brains and I personally am very sensitive. My own son had over 80 seizures a day and I went through that same experience and I totally understand the desperation of a family to find any cure.
JOHNSON: Sure. Sure.
QUESTION: But that marijuana, that you're talking about that's tied to Charlotte's Oil, it's -- what's been on the national media, is completely different than majority of the pot being sold in Colorado today.
And it has been very difficult and very confusing to educate on the harms of marijuana in our state because there is a perception that it's completely harmful when we've got marijuana that is up to 95 percent THC concentration levels, which is unprecedented.
COOPER: You know, in Colorado there were increases in marijuana- related hospital visits, apparently traffic deaths, school suspensions. Are you -- how would you deal with other sort of follow- on effects?
JOHNSON: Actually, overall, Anderson, all the statistics were pointing north. Not significantly, but all the statistics were actually north. You may be pointing at some aberrations within that.
COOPER: Yes, there was a Northwestern University and University of Colorado study about ER visits rising by 44 percent after marijuana was legalized in 2012 to 2014.
JOHNSON: I just think that so much research and development needs to take place that hasn't taken place. And that marijuana products deal -- or compete directly with legal prescription drugs that statistically kill 100,000 people a year and there are no documented deaths due to marijuana.
And that should -- that concern that you're expressing needs...
QUESTION: There have been some deaths in Colorado, some really concerning data coming out.
COOPER: But essentially you're saying more studies should be done. JOHNSON: Absolutely. Yes. Something that by de-scheduling marijuana as
a class one narcotic can take place.
COOPER: Matthew Larsen is here. He is a teacher in New York City. He says he hasn't made up his mind who he's going to for. He is leaning towards Secretary Clinton.
QUESTION: Good evening, governors.
Governor Johnson, as president, you intend to eliminate the Common Core standards as well as the Department of Education. In doing so, what plan does your administration have to ensure all children in all 50 states are accessing high quality education, and not just in those which have already adopted it?
JOHNSON: Well, first of all, the Department of Education, I do believe, needs to be eliminated. Let's take New York as an example. New York sends Washington 13 cents. It goes you this the bureaucratic wash and dry cycle and it comes back to New York 11 cents. How do you like that equation?
And then the Department of Education says that you need to do A, V, C, and D to get the 11 cents. And it actually costs another four pennies for New York to comply with that.
I just think that if we gave education to the states, 50 laboratories of innovation and best practice, that we would genuinely have that innovation and best practice that other states would emulate. You know, we would have failure that everyone else would avoid.
But one size fits all, it just doesn't work.
WELD: In Massachusetts we put in high stakes testing in grades 4, 8 and 10 when I was governor. And you had to pass those tests. We did away with social promotion so that you didn't graduate from high school when you really had to check in to remedial reading and remedial math as soon as you got to community college. And our test scores have been the highest in the nation, both English and math ever since.
We did it with an increment in funding. That was the trade-off with the legislature. But in terms of quality, the quality became number one in the country. I've opposed Common Core in Massachusetts because I think what we already have there is better.
I think there's a lot that the government can do to make college education more affordable. A lot of it involves jobs and making sure that apprenticeships in companies such as University of Massachusetts- Lowell had with Raytheon, are available for students.
I think we need a lot more online education. Many people can't afford to take a year or two off to pursue the bricks and mortar education. And I think the four-year ivy-clad bricks and mortar education is just -- it may not be a dodo bird, but it's not going to be for everybody. We have to have more emphasis on voc-tech so that we're preparing
people for real-world jobs, not that everybody is going to go to the ivy league colleges and then there won't be any jobs.
COOPER: I want to -- we have some breaking news that we're just learning about that I want you both to weigh in on. We've just confirmed a knife attack in London, which investigators believe to be a terror attack based on early evidence. One person is dead there. Five others have been wounded. Officials say one of the injured appears to be an American. The suspect is in custody.
Earlier tonight you mentioned lone wolf attacks in the in the United States. How do you convince Americans that you have the plan to prevent these kind of attacks and to respond to these kind of attacks, not just here at home but internationally?
JOHNSON: Maybe we're the different candidates that are going to say, look, this stuff is going to happen. When you look at what happened in Nice the other day, I mean, this is a situation that exists in this country in 10,000 different places every single day where a crowd could be driven into by a vehicle.
Yes, a President of the United States, Vice President of the United States, we need to be vigilant to potentially prevent these things from happening, but these things are going to happen.
COOPER: So, the message these things are going to happen, is there a role for the president to play in....
JOHNSON: Absolutely. You know, Bill talked about his task force, well that's growing -- you know, that's dynamic government. That's growing government in areas to address problems that we really have, but, you know, we can go and look at government and also identify things that just haven't worked forever and get rid of those things.
But, yes, we will be vigilant at the helm.
WELD: For organized groups such as ISIS, as a opposed to, perhaps, unpredictable lone wolf, nothing's too good for those guys. You need SigInt, and HumInt...
COOPER: ...Signals Intelligence, Human Intelligence.
WELD: Signals intelligence, human intelligence on the ground. Bill Casey, the former head of the CIA was a champion of human intelligence on the ground. I agree with him. There's no substitute for that. That involves infiltration of those groups by whatever means available.
COOPER: Let's go back to our audience questions. I want you to meet Robin Sumners (ph), she's from Los Angeles, California. She attended the Democratic Convention last week to support Bernie Sanders. She now says she's leaning toward Green Party candidate, Jill Stein. She has not yet made up her mind.
Welcome, what's your question? QUESTION: Thank you. I'm a Bernie supporter, and I'm disappointed about the prospect of voting for someone else, but I've decided that I have to vote for someone that aligns with my values. What -- how are you similar to Bernie Sanders, and what would you say to win my vote? JOHNSON: Well, I think Bernie and I are similar on about 75 percent of what's out there. And, of course, that would be marriage equality, a woman's right to choose, legalizing marijuana, let's stop with the military interventions.
The crony capitalism is alive and well, but when from an economic standpoint here's my hypothesis, and I might be wrong, if Bernie supporters are really looking for income equality, I don't think that is something that government can accomplish. Taking from Peter to rob Paul, that's a equation that Peter really loves.
But, if Bernie supporters are looking for equal opportunity, I think that that is something that can be accomplished, and as governor of New Mexico, arguably having vetoed more legislation than all the other governors in the country combined -- I vetoed a whole lot of legislation that wasn't about equal opportunity. It was about giving a continued upper-hand to those that could pay for influence, and the ability to game the system, if you will.
In politics you can definitely stand up against gaming the system. In politics you can definitely stand up for equal opportunity.
COOPER: I want to ask you about fundraising. Donald Trump announced today he raised $80 million dollars last month. Hillary Clinton raised $90 million dollars. How do you compete with numbers like that? I think your last filing that I looked at today said you raised a total of $1.4 million dollars since you announced, not last month, since you announced. How do you compete?
WELD: I've been more or less in charge of the individual fundraising as opposed to the web-based fund...
COOPER: ... I'm told you actually like...
WELD: ... I like fundraising.
COOPER: ... fundraising.
WELD: I was Pete Wilson's national finance chair when he ran for president.
COOPER: What do you like about it?
COOPER: I can't imagine -- that's got to be the most miserable thing, making those calls?
WELD: If you can't sell yourself what can you sell, you know? We shouldn't be in this business if we didn't want to sell ourselves. But, I've noticed a distinct uptick in our fundraising. That's just me on the telephone, but on a good day I'll do the better
part of a million dollars in a day, and the web-based fundraising that Gary knows more about is also picked way up. But, beyond that, when you get further down the election cycle it's not like the old days where if somebody had a two-to-one edge in their campaign account that they were going to win the election on that account.
Not with the amount of free publicity from the debates, and the fact that campaigns can move 10 points in the polls based on something going viral on the web.
Those things didn't exist...
COOPER: ... Again, the debates, what do you have to be at? What, 15 percent?
COOPER: So, critical that you move up a little bit more in the polls.
JOHNSON: Money's part of that. Next reporting session I think you're going to see significant jump in our fundraising, but no, it's not going to be in line with Trump or Clinton. To me that just speaks volumes of what we are generating on the amount of money that we have.
This 12 percent poll here by Fox today, just now, wow. We'd do the same thing in office, you know? Providing the best bang for the buck.
COOPER: This is Mohammed Shaker, he's a college student, a Muslim- American veteran. He's also has chaired the Republican Liberty Caucus of Tampa Bay. He's leaning towards voting for you both. Mohammed, what's your question?
QUESTION: Governors, thank you. I'm a Muslim and American and I'm a veteran. I'm also Republican and I believe the government needs to abide by the Constitution. I'm not going to vote for Donald Trump and I'm not going to vote for Hillary Clinton. Why are you a better choice for somebody like me?
JOHNSON: Perhaps we do encompass the best of what Republicans are supposed to be about, which is smaller government and they don't do a very good job at that. And perhaps, we're really good at civil liberties, something that Democrats haven't stood up for mandatory sentencing and the fact that we have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. And that we continue to militarily intervene.
We both reject the notion that Libertarian are isolationists. We're not isolationists, we're non-interventionists. We don't want to get involved in regime change that really has, the unintended consequence of making the world less safe.
WELD: Let me just say, I thank you for your service. I listened to everything you said, and I really, really, want your vote.
(APPLAUSE) QUESTION: We'll see Governor.
JOHNSON: If I could just throw an arrow in the air. To me, the real reason might be that we're decent people, we are both inclusive to the tips of our toes, great big, open, loving, if you will, society. And we know that this country has always been a melting pot. We know that's the strength -- the sinew of this country and we want to keep it that way. COOPER: Governor Johnson, I've heard you use some words tonight. I don't think I've heard a politician use in a long time. At one point you said, I may be wrong, which I haven't heard a politician say that in a long time.
And just now you said, well perhaps we're this, and perhaps, you know. Those are, I haven't heard a politician - -
WELD: Well he just an elegant guy Anderson.
COOPER: Well no, it's rare to heard someone would say, maybe I'm wrong but this is what I think.
JOHNSON: Well if you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything. That has been a creed of mine forever.
JOHNSON: In that vein, if you tell the truth, that means you'll admit mistakes and make plenty of mistakes. But how often is a mistake worse just because of the denial of the mistake and there's no quicker way to get after fixing something than first acknowledging it.
COOPER: I want you both to meet Shetamia Taylor. She's been on my program. She was wounded in the Dallas shooting that also killed five police officers. She's a Democrat. She says she's still undecided. I'm so glad you are here tonight, thanks for being here. What's your question?
QUESTION: Good evening. I was shot in the leg during the protests, teaching my four sons about peaceful protesting and coming together in the African-American community and how we can show unity. As a white man in America, what is your, how do you feel about the Black Lives Matter Movement?
JOHNSON: What it has done for me is, is that my head's been in the sand on this. That's what it's done for me. And that I think we've all had our head's in the sand and let's wake up. This discrimination does exist, it has existed and for me personally, you know, slap, slap, wake up.
WELD: I think we have a national emergency in the number of male black youth who are unemployed without prospects. They're four times likely to be incarcerated if they have intersection with law enforcement as white people are. They're educational opportunities are not there.
WELD: We have to get them into education and just concentrate the power of the government trying to make sure there are jobs available for them. It's a national emergency, and when there's a national emergency, the government has to respond. Libertarian or no Libertarian.
COOPER: I want to take a quick break. We'll have more from the governors coming up, questions from the audience when we come back.
COOPER: And, Welcome back to the CNN Libertarian town hall with candidates Gary Johnson and William Weld. I want to go to the audience. Gary Denoia (ph) is an attorney from Long Island. Even though he's a registered Libertarian he's currently leaning toward voting for Donald Trump. Gary, what's your question?
QUESTION: Thank you, Anderson. Good evening, governors. The conclusion of FBI Director Comey, that no reasonable prosecutor would charge Hillary Clinton with a crime with regard to her handling of State Department emails, what is your position on that? Do you agree with that conclusion?
COOPER: Governor Weld, former prosecutor...
WELD: I read Mr. Comey's report with care, and I do agree with it, and I think he asked the right question, would a reasonable prosecutor bring this case? And, my conclusion was there was insufficient evidence of criminal intent.
Under Justice Department rules you're not supposed to indict a case unless your persuaded that the admissible evidence is sufficient to obtain, and to sustain on appeal a conviction by an unbiased jury, and I don't think that test was met in this case.
Jim Comey's quite a distinguished Deputy Attorney General before being made Director of the FBI, and I think he came to the right conclusion. This is not a layman speaking. That was my field for a long time.
COOPER: Governor Johnson, I want to ask you, last Sunday Secretary Clinton gave an answer to Chris Wallace about her emails that fact- checkers said was not true. Given that, do you understand why some 64 percent of registered voters find her untrustworthy?
JOHNSON: Yea, totally. I totally get it.
JOHNSON: I do leave that unto others. I have issues with her on all these issues, and it starts with growing government. Taxes are going to go up in a significant way. Was there anything that she didn't promise to anyone in her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention?
And, I do believe she has been an architect of our foreign policy, Libya, and Syria, as an example. Going in, supporting the opposition when the opposition -- not intentional, but the opposition is aligned with ISIS. Opposition gets wiped out, arms wind up in ISIS hands. This is what we do when it comes to regime change.
COOPER: From the audience, this is Michael Bernstein, he's a registered Libertarian from Melville, New York. He's a management consultant, he says he's 100 percent supporting you. Michael, what's your question?
QUESTION: Hi, Gary. Embracing a Libertarian policy framework usually involves examining our society's vices, and we hear a lot about the legalization of marijuana, but we don't hear a lot about more hardline Libertarian positions such as the legalization of sex work in the United States. How do you -- where do you fall on some of those more hardlined policies?
COOPER: Do you support decriminalization of prostitution?
JOHNSON: That ends up to be a states issue, and if you look at that issue, Nevada has done it. Prostitution is not something that I ever intend to enlist those services...
JOHNSON: ... If I were someone to do that, where would you do that? Well, I think you would do that in Nevada where you would know that you wouldn't catch a sexually transmitted disease, that it would be safe.
COOPER: The Libertarian Party platform says individuals own their bodies, and have rights over them that other individuals, groups, and governments may not violate. And, later it says "we favor the repeal of all laws creating crimes without victims."
JOHNSON: That is...
COOPER: ... You say leave it up to the states?
JOHNSON: I agree with that statement, yes.
COOPER: So, you favor repealing -- do you think prostitution is a victimless crime?
JOHNSON: Do I think -- currently prostitution -- the victim are the prostitutes. There are a lot of victims in prostitution currently.
WELD: People used to say when I brought public corruption cases that that was a victimless crime, far from it. The public is the loser, big time, in those cases. You just can't see the crime being committed when it happens.
COOPER: This is Abigail Sharky, she's a student at Columbia University. She's leaning toward voting for you, Governor Johnson, and you, Governor Weld. What's your question?
QUESTION: Thank you. Governor Johnson, as a collegiate athlete I share and appreciate your personal commitment to living an active and healthy lifestyle, yet there are many Americans who are shortening their lives and the lives of their children through unhealthy eating habits.
Do you believe that the government has a responsibility to fight the obesity epidemic?
JOHNSON: Well, that government has a role? I applaud Michelle Obama when she brings out this issue. And, yes, what we put in our bodies has a direct impact on our lives and the quality of life that we lead. As President of the United States I am going to lead by example. I have celiac disease, so food labeling for me is something that is essential. I'm allergic to gluten.
And my partner-fiance, Kate, promises to keep up Michelle's garden.
COOPER: For most people in this audience know, maybe people at home don't know, Governor Johnson is, I guess, an extreme athlete, I think you would say? Governor Weld is certainly shaking his head.
You completed multiple Ironman triathlons, correct me if I'm wrong. You bicycled 600 miles in 36 hours?
JOHNSON: 485 miles, I had to retract from that. Back to admitting mistakes.
COOPER: Still, I don't think I've ever biked 485 miles in my entire life.
COOPER: And he summited Mount Everest as well.
JOHNSON: Yeah, I've climbed the highest mountain on each of the seven continents.
COOPER: How many miles have you run this week?
JOHNSON: Well, by choice I ride bicycle these days. Mountain bike being a passion, and cycling being a passion. So, this week six hours of that to this point.
COOPER: Governor Weld, I'm not going to ask you about exercise, but what do you to unwind?
COOPER: Or, maybe you are an exercise...
WELD: ... I do go to the gym.
(LAUGHTER) WELD: A couple of years ago I was unsatisfied with how I felt, and I looked down and found that I weighed 235 pounds, so I went on a portion control diet. Just eating a little bit less, and I've lost 40 pounds.
COOPER: Wow, that's great.
WELD: And that makes exercise easier as well.
COOPER: Yes. Yes.
JOHNSON: And the take away from athletics, one foot in front of the other, that life is every single day. We have setbacks and it's how we deal with those setbacks that ultimately determines success. You know. Be a victim and give up or hey get a smile on your face and deal with tomorrow. That's a better option, I think.
COOPER: On foot in front of the other. I want to thank both governors.
JOHNSON: Oh, thank you.
COOPER: I want to thank our audience here and to you at home. A programming note, we want to make an exciting announcement. Two weeks from tonight, there's going to be another CNN Presidential Town hall, Jill Stein, the presumptive nominee of the Green Party and her running mate, Ajamu Baraka will join us on this very stage. That's Wednesday, August 17 only on CNN. Time now for CNN Tonight with Don Lemon.