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Shut Out of Debate, Johnson Talks to Pagans

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WASHINGTON – Former Gov. Gary Johnson was shut out of yet another debate on CNN Tuesday night, but he did find a receptive audience last weekend during an Internet interview with pagan media outlets.

The long-shot Republican presidential candidate, who has struggled to get traction in national polls, spent an hour and a half Saturday evening chatting with five reporters for pagan organizations, including Modern Witch Podcast and several regional outlets of the Pagan Newswire Collective. A representative of the Hindu American Foundation also participated and asked questions.

Pagan definition: The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines pagan as a “heathen; especially a follower of a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome)” and as “one who has little or no religion and who delights in sensual pleasures and material goods: an irreligious or hedonistic person.”

One of the first queries came from Devin Hunter of Pagan Podcasts, who asked Johnson the question many mainstream political observers might ask.

“We know you’re incredibly busy … why talk to pagans?” Hunter asked.

Johnson said he’s trying to reach as many voters as possible.

“This whole campaign has been about talking to anybody that will listen,” Johnson responded with a chuckle. “The belief (is) that you get to hear and listen to all these candidates – and you all have opinions. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say you are opinion makers – people look to you for your opinions because you take the time to become well-informed. That was my tack running for governor of New Mexico, the notion that you have to build a really strong base.”

Pagan mainsTream: For the record, many of the pagan media’s questions were pretty mainstream, including inquiries about Johnson’s views on Social Security, the Patriot Act, federal spending and other issues. Johnson, a proponent of private school vouchers, said that if elected he wouldn’t be opposed to the teaching of yoga or Eastern medicine in a “competitively run educational system.”

Ron Neilson, Johnson’s campaign manager, said Johnson talked to the pagan media because he doesn’t want to ignore anyone.

CNN shutout: Johnson was still fuming Monday about his exclusion from CNN’s Republican presidential debate on Tuesday. He wrote the network brass complaining about the decision.

“I will not speculate as to your reasoning for not allowing me on your stage,” Johnson said in his letter. “I will, though, suggest that there is no rational basis for excluding me, while inviting others whose credentials and polling performance are in no way measurably different than mine – particularly when the news media excludes me from the very same polls that are used to determine participation in debate.”

Johnson also was excluded from a CNN debate on June 13.
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— This article appeared on page C01 of the Albuquerque Journal

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