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Gary Johnson says he would continue Barack Obama's ISIS policies

Johnson has not been receiving intelligence briefings like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Editor’s Note: The Axe Files, featuring David Axelrod, is a podcast distributed by CNN and produced at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. The author works for David Axelrod.

CNN —  

Despite having positioned himself as a critic of US foreign policy in the Middle East, Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee, said he would likely represent a continuation of President Barack Obama’s efforts to contain ISIS.

“I don’t want to do anything that takes a step backwards” in our fight against ISIS, the former governor of New Mexico told David Axelrod on “The Axe Files” podcast, produced by the University of Chicago Institute of Politics and CNN.

Allowing that he – unlike Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump – has not been privy to national security briefings to better inform his thinking, Johnson suggested he would not break from the President’s position. “Not for a second do I want to say that Obama has not been well-thought” on this issue, Johnson said. “But if he has been, if you’re saying that he has been, I’m making the pitch that I’m going to be a continuation of that.”

In the nearly hourlong conversation, Johnson also:

  • Expressed regret for appearing to not recognize Aleppo, a city in Syria that has been at the center of that country’s civil war, and then joking about it afterward. “Look, 90% of people don’t know what Aleppo is, but 90% of people aren’t running for president of the United States. I am, and there’s no excuse.”
  • Indicated that, as president, he would not honor the US commitment to the Paris climate change agreement. “If we’re out in front on this and it results in fewer US jobs – no, I’m not going to put us in a position of losing US jobs to comply ahead of everyone else.”
  • Suggested local communities could supply a safer method for addicts to use heroin as a way to help combat the epidemic of opioid- and other drug-related deaths that have afflicted many parts of the country. “I am not advocating a federal program here whatsoever. But if Chicago were to set up clinics that you, as a heroin addict, could come in and get your heroin tested without fear of criminal repercussion, we’ll test it for you and we’ll determine whether it will kill you or not. If you are genuinely concerned about reducing or eliminating death due to heroin, that is a program that would definitely do that.”
  • Articulated his support for unlimited political campaign contributions from individuals and corporations, provided the system allows for full disclosure.

To hear the whole conversation with Johnson, click on To get “The Axe Files” podcast every week, subscribe at