The Libertarian Party is the third largest and fastest growing political party in the United States. The party platform is favors minimizing regulation, less government, strong civil liberties (including support for same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights), the legalization of cannabis, separation of church and state, open immigration, non-interventionism and neutrality in diplomatic relations, freedom of trade and travel to all foreign countries, and a more responsive and direct democracy. They support the repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA and other trade agreements, as well as, withdrawal from the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and NATO. The party was founded in 1971 and has qualified for the ballot in 48 states and the District of Columbia.
Former two time Republican governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson is the 2012 party nominee for president:
He entered politics for the first time by running for Governor of New Mexico in 1994 on a fiscally conservative, low-tax, anti-crime platform. Johnson won the Republican Party of New Mexico’s gubernatorial nomination, and defeated incumbent Democratic governor Bruce King by 50% to 40%. He cut the 10% annual growth in the budget: in part, due to his use of the gubernatorial veto 200 times during his first six months in office, which gained him the nickname “Governor Veto”. [..]
Johnson sought re-election in 1998, winning by 55% to 45%. In his second term, he concentrated on the issue of school voucher reforms, as well as campaigning for marijuana decriminalization and opposition to the War on Drugs. [..]
Johnson announced his candidacy for President on April 21, 2011, as a Republican, on a libertarian platform emphasizing the United States public debt and a balanced budget through a 43% reduction of all federal government spending, protection of civil liberties, an immediate end to the War in Afghanistan and his advocacy of the FairTax.
On December 28, 2011, after being excluded from the majority of the Republican Party’s presidential debates and failing to gain traction while campaigning for the New Hampshire primary, he withdrew his candidacy for the Republican nomination and announced that he would continue his presidential campaign as a candidate for the nomination of the Libertarian Party. He won the Libertarian Party nomination on May 5, 2012. His vice-presidential running mate is Judge James P. Gray of California.
Johnson could become the spoiler in this election siphoning off votes from the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, much as many believe the Green Party candidate, Ralph Nader, cost Al Gore the Florida vote in 2000 and Ross Perot candidacy lost George H. W. Bush his second term in 1992. This has the GOP running scared in swing states like Pennsylvania:
The fear of Mr. Johnson’s tipping the outcome in an important state may explain why an aide to Mr. Romney ran what was effectively a surveillance operation into Mr. Johnson’s efforts over the summer to qualify for the ballot at the Iowa State Fair, providing witnesses to testify in a lawsuit to block him that ultimately fizzled.
Libertarians suspect it is why Republican state officials in Michigan blocked Mr. Johnson from the ballot after he filed proper paperwork three minutes after his filing deadline.
And it is why Republicans in Pennsylvania hired a private detective to investigate his ballot drive in Philadelphia, appearing at the homes of paid canvassers and, in some cases, flashing an F.B.I. badge – he was a retired agent – while asking to review the petitions they gathered at $1 a signature, according to testimony in the case and interviews.
The challenge in Pennsylvania, brought by state Republican Party officials who suspected that Democrats were secretly helping the effort to get Mr. Johnson on the ballot, was shot down in court last week, bringing to 48 the number of states where Mr. Johnson will compete on Nov. 6.
On MSNBC’s Daily Rundown, political analyst Chuck Todd discusses the impact of third party candidates and interviewed Gov. Johnson:
You can read more about Gov. Johnson and his running mate, Judge James P. Gray at his campaign’s web site.