The third largest political party in the United States, the Libertarian Party, saw five of its 12 presidential candidates debate last night, February 27, 2016, at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. A video of the debate can be found through this link which included Dr. Marc Allan Feldman, Gary Johnson, John McAfee, Darryl Perry, and Austin Petersen. This is the first debate of the libertarian candidates before the political party’s membership votes for their presidential nominee in May 2016 at the Libertarian Party National Convention in Orlando, Florida.
The debate started with Feldman explaining his campaign strategy of limited his political contributions to $5 per donor. Feldman’s Votes Not For Sale program is for the 100 million Americans who are those “struggling people who can scrape together $5 will be my largest campaign contributor and you always represent your largest campaign contributor.”
John McAfee answered the question as to why he felt he was a viable presidential candidate stating, “I think what qualifies me is a number of things. I have run multi-billion dollar businesses, I am an entrepreneur, I know what it means to have no money and have to meet a payroll which our government does not understand. I know that as people cannot just print money when we want to spend and buy something. I am the oldest man in the room, so I am the most experienced in life experiences.”
Governor Gary Johnson, who was the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee said, “I have been an entrepreneur my entire life, growing a business from one person to over 1,000 people. I am an adventurer; I’m a pilot, I’ve flown gas balloons in the World Championships, I’ve done Ironman Hawaii four times, I’m a fierce competitor and doing this in 2012 I learned a lot.” He added, “If Donald Trump is the [Republican] nominee and if Hillary is the [Democratic] nominee if that isn’t an opportunity for the Libertarian Party than I don’t know what is. I have climbed the seven summits, the highest mountain on each continent. Donald Trump is a pussy.”
Austin Petersen, the youngest on the stage stating he “kicked down the doors of power” through his time at Fox News. Petersen added, “I put a Libertarian TV show on Fox that brought more people to the Libertarian movement than you could ever imagine.” Petersen was formerly an associate producer for Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show “Freedom Watch”, on the Fox Business Network.
Darryl Perry opened with, “What I promise you is not five percent of the vote, not winning the White House, not anything other than as often as possible, as boldly as possible, and as often as possible, proclaiming the ideas of liberty.” Perry when on to cite a recent poll which found one if four Americans agree with him on the idea of secession.
Some fireworks erupted during the debate about Sharia Law between Gary Johnson and Austin Petersen.Though Johnson started with a line about religious freedom he drew the line when it came to Sharia stating, “Sharia is a system of government, it is politics. We need to distinguish between freedom of religion and the politics of Sharia and all of the extremism is coming from the politics of Sharia.” Petersen countered with, “I am surprised to hear this fear-mongering coming from the Governor because if he read the tenets of Sharia there are actually some very libertarian aspects such as private courts, private adjudication which many of us do agree with. Let’s stop with the fear-mongering Governor. Whenever I formulate a policy, I like to ask myself ‘What would Thomas Jefferson do?’ And Thomas Jefferson said that ‘timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous seas of liberty.’ The day after 9/11, Congressman Ron Paul went to Congress and he asked them to issue a Constitutional Letters of Marque and Reprisal. Now this was the Constitutional way to deal with Islamists and Jihadists.” Johnson then asked Petersen if he supported Sharia Law and he said he did not, but it seemed the two still have a fundamental difference on the subject which will likely be hashed out in future debates. Polls have put Johnson and Petersen strongly leading over other candidates in the 2016 presidential race. Johnson also found himself having to defend himself on his stance on Sharia with candidate Perry.
According to a straw poll offered at last night’s debate, found that Governor Gary Johnson had 38 percent of the vote, John McAfee 26 percent, Austin Petersen at 17 percent, Darryl Perry at 15 percent and Dr. Marc Feldman received 5 percent of the vote total. According to the Libertarian Party’s website, Johnson and Petersen have a strong lead with over 4,400 respondents. Johnson has 46 percent support, Petersen has 25 percent, McAfee has 14 percent, and Steve Kerbel has seven percent.
The first nationally televised debate of Libertarian Party presidential candidates will happen on the Fox Business Network in March 2016, date and time to be announced soon. Other debates will happen at various Libertarian Party state conventions across the country with the last happening at the Libertarian Party’s national convention in May 2016.