From NBC's Catherine Chomiak and Chris D'Alessio
This morning in Concord, NH, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (R) said something he hadn't uttered before.
“I’m running for president of the United States,” he told a couple of supporters and cameramen gathered for his announcement outside the New Hampshire State Capitol. Skipping the exploratory committee phase, Johnson jumped right into the slow-to-start 2012 race.
A New Hampshire announcement is fitting, seeing as Johnson’s strategy hangs on his success in the first-in-the-nation primary state. “New Hampshire is really key in this whole process for me. I have to do and want to do really well in New Hampshire, so I’m gonna spend a lot of time in New Hampshire where you can go from obscurity to prominence overnight with a good showing in New Hampshire,” he said. This was Johnson’s fourth visit to the Granite State this year.
Johnson, a libertarian, differs with much of the Republican Party’s base on several issues. He supports a guest-worker program. “I’m not talking about citizenship. I’m not talking about a green card, permit of non-residential status. I’m talking about a work visa,” he said. He also favors legalizing marijuana, because he thinks if you legalize the drug “75% of the border violence with Mexico goes away because that’s the estimate of the drug cartels’ activities that are engaged in the trade of marijuana.” And opposed to both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Johnson wants America out of both countries now.
Where he and the GOP don’t differ is on the scope of the government. “I really do believe in smaller government. I really believe that there are consequences of legislation that get passed and maybe it isn’t in our best interests to pass all the legislation that we pass,” he told the small audience.