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It's A Gray Area: Being on the campaign trail

February 16, 2013|By James P. Gray

Many have asked what it was like to be the 2012 Libertarian candidate for vice president, along with Gov. Gary Johnson as our candidate for president.

I can say that on the one hand, it was a deeply humbling, uplifting, interesting and gratifying experience. On the other hand, believing that the governor and I were far more qualified than anyone else in the race, and seeing us almost completely frozen out of the national media and excluded from the national debates, it was eternally frustrating.

More specifically, I can tell you that it is a big country, which makes money overly important in elections. But considering that probably 75% of the voters had never even heard of us, I think we did quite well.

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Probably the most interesting experience on the campaign trail was when I was invited to speak at the Harvest Festival in Monticello in upstate New York.

Almost literally we were back in time and participating in Woodstock. The place was filled with hippies, young and old, in tie-dyed clothes with peace symbols and long hair.

Our guide was a gentle, middle-aged man wearing a leather vest filled with metal emblems and badges who introduced himself by saying that his real name was David, but everyone called him "Trashy."

I spoke on the stage after Pete Seeger. It was a wonderful event. Yes, some marijuana was being smoked on the grounds, but people were completely well-behaved, with not a policeman in sight. It is not my lifestyle, but it was great to see people harmlessly enjoying themselves as they wished.

I also spoke at a lunch event in Spokane. Because I arrived a bit early, I had occasion to meet and get to know Jake, 3, whose mother brought him along. I used his name during my presentation by saying that my generation had made a financial mess of our country, that our children would have to pay it back, and that people like Jake were bankrupt. Of course, little Jake had no idea what the word bankrupt meant, but it sounded bad, so he started to cry.

So there I was making a 3-year-old cry. As I tried to dig myself out, I said that if he actually knew the bad financial condition he was in, he would have every reason to cry.

At another event, I met a young girl and asked her how old she was. She responded, "I'm pushing 4!" That made us laugh, a better result than with Jake.

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