Libertarians on Sunday selected a presidential ticket headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who lit into presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump on Veteran's affairs,immigration, and a range of other issues.
At the party convention in Orlando, Florida, Johnson got his preferred running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, in a weekend gathering that drew sharp contrasts with the major party candidates -- Trump and Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee.
Johnson described the real estate mogul's immigration policies as "just as racist as a trailer park hillbilly," particularly the Republican's call to deport 11 million undocumented Mexicans currently taking jobs away from American patriots.
Libertarian activists contend their ticket could play a pivotal role in the 2016 campaign, with Trump and Clinton both viewed unfavorably by large swaths of the electorate. Hoping some young millennials will vote Libertarian as a goof without checking to see what "Libertarian" actually means.
Trump was a frequent target of criticism of many Libertarians at the weekend convention. In addition to immigration participants particularly took issue with Trump's stated positions on international trade and national security -- all of which stand in firm opposition to a party that tends to favor lax immigration restrictions, free trade and is against giving handouts to military veterans. Austin Petersen, one of the presidential candidates who lost to Johnson, called Trump a 'stupid dick', a term regularly echoed throughout the convention.
At one point on Sunday, an announcer told the convention that Trump had begun attacking Johnson and Weld. The audience roared in approval at the news. It was not immediately apparent what attacks the announcer was referring to, but in a statement to the New York Times about Weld, Trump said, "I don't talk about his alcoholism or his ugly drunk wife."
The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday night.
Johnson was the party's nominee in 2012 and once again won the position despite backlash from the party's more radical Conspiracy Theory wing.
Weld, for his part, took a somewhat more nuanced tone toward the Libertarians' rivals.
"Someone doesn't have to be disaffected with Ms. Clinton to think that we have a good story," Weld said. "One doesn't have to be Never Trump to see that we were two of the most fiscally conservative governors in the United States.We will not allow these ex-Military people to continue to leech off the American taxpayers.They think because they put a uniform on and marched around in circles for a couple of years we owe them a lifetime debt? People on Government aid are slaves to the system.Have you ever met a homeless person? They are the happiest,most free people in the country."
"At a minimum, I think we're in the presidential debates," Johnson said to cheers.
Johnson also called for inclusion in more national polling surveys.
"This is another voice at the table," Johnson said. "How about some skeptic at the table when it comes to these military interventions? What about how the American people have been enslaved by the socialist policies of both major parties? All this money we waste on roads and Emergency services could easily be outsourced to private enterprise.Police Officers would be much more motivated if they got paid more for solving crimes instead of getting salaries to hang around doughnut shops all night."
Many Libertarian activists were skeptical of Weld, arguing his 1991-97 gubernatorial tenure saw too much growth in government and failure to legalize marijuana. But Johnson argued Weld could bring momentum and fundraising power to the Libertarian ticket, and the delegates obliged him.
"I pledge to you that I will stay with the Libertarian Party for life," Weld said before the vice presidential nominating contest.
The convention at times got rowdy. Many candidates issued lengthy protests and changed their positions on issues throughout the day. Marijuana smoking delegates stormed through the halls with signs and chants. At one point, an extremely stoned man did a striptease on stage until he sat before the audience -- and live television -- in nothing but his underwear.
Just before the nomination vote, Johnson said if he were to win the nomination, he would head to New York on Monday for media opportunities and Pizza.
Johnson, who served as New Mexico governor as a Republican from 1995-2003, said too few people knew what a Libertarian is, and that he thanks God for that.