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MERIDIAN — Libertarian presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen stopped her campaign bus in Meridian Wednesday, pitching fiscal conservatism, drug decriminalization and a slew of other policies to a crowd of about 100 people.

The Clemson University psychology professor targeted potential Trump voters in a Q&A with attendees.

“If you love what Donald Trump is doing, then I’ll tell you, ‘Vote for him again,’” she said. “However, if what you wanted is an outsider, if what you wanted is someone who is going to cut spending, cut the debt, bring the troops home” rather than “somebody who called themself a businessman and said he was going to do all this … you’re wasting your vote voting for Trump.

“In Idaho, it makes it really easy for you guys, because Trump is going to get the electoral votes anyway — so if you vote for Trump, that’s a truly wasted vote if that’s not what you want,” she said.

Voting Libertarian in 2020 is about “sending a message” and shedding light on some Americans’ dissatisfaction with President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden, she told the Idaho Press.

Her running mate is Jeremy “Spike” Cohen, an entrepreneur who worked in web design before entering politics.

Jorgensen acknowledged she defends polices that aren’t “middle of the road.” She echoed her well-documented wish to eliminate The Federal Reserve, the U.S. Department of Education and potentially the Internal Revenue Service.

Crowd members cheered for Jorgensen as she promised to withdraw internationally stationed U.S. troops, criticized the U.S. for a lack of early mass COVID-19 testing and took aim at no-knock warrants.

Such warrants are issued by judges and allow law enforcement to enter a property without notification. A no-knock warrant was used when Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in March by Louisville police. Since her death, there have been nationwide calls to end the practice. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, introduced a bill in June prohibiting no-knock warrants called the Justice for Breonna Taylor Act.

Jorgensen also promised to challenge an array of congressional spending efforts.

“My veto pen is going to need a lot of ink,” she said.

She’d veto federal relief packages like the CARES Act if given the chance, she told the Idaho Press. That would include relief dollars spent on unemployment stimulus checks and money used to back fill state education budget cuts, such as the $150 million allocated to Idaho education by the state Tuesday.

In an interview with NPR, Jorgensen explained that she opposes such packages because there’s no accountability.

“What we’re doing is we’re letting the bureaucrats spend the money how they want to,” she said in the May interview. “And it’s going to the large corporations and not often to the people who need it. So I say that private charity always works best. What happens when you give money to the government, and let’s say they don’t spend it wisely? Nothing happens. Taxes get raised, but it’s not like people get fired. There is absolutely no accountability.”

Jorgensen told NPR that if the government hadn’t shut down the economy, people would not have been out of work to begin with.

“So this is typical where the government breaks your leg and then thinks that you should be grateful that you’re getting a crutch from them. If the government doesn’t break your leg to begin with, you don’t need the crutch,” she said.

At Wednesday’s event, Jorgensen also called for further localization of education budgeting, taxing and decisions on schools reopening during the pandemic. In Idaho, school reopening decisions have been left up to the local school boards, though health districts have provided recommendations.

Jorgensen is the first Libertarian woman and the second American woman to lead a presidential ticket in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.; the first was Hillary Clinton in 2016. Jorgensen has a Ph.D. in psychology from Clemson University, and she hopes to beat the 3.27% of the popular vote netted by 2016 Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

This isn’t her first election on the Libertarian ticket; Jorgensen was the Libertarian vice presidential nominee in 1996, according to Ballotpedia. She is the fifth Libertarian candidate to meet ballot access requirements in all 50 states. Previous Libertarian candidates reached this milestone in 1980, 1992, 1996 and 2016.

At the rally, two local Libertarian candidates also took the stage. Joe Evans spoke about his U.S. House of Representatives bid, in which he’s taking on incumbent Republican Russ Fulcher and Democrat Rudy Soto.

Jess Smith — a Legislative District 13 candidate for the Idaho House of Representatives — called for marijuana legalization and elimination of state-run liquor stores in a spirited speech.

No registered Libertarians currently occupy Idaho House or Senate seats.

The event was held at Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park, the same site where a Meridian woman was arrested during a protest for refusing to leave a playground area closed by the city because of the pandemic. In the months following that incident, multiple members of far-right organizations like Health Freedom Idaho have espoused Libertarian sentiment at anti-mask protests while criticizing the Meridian women’s voluntary arrest.

Jorgensen told Idaho Press she was unaware of the incident and that it didn’t factor into her decision to come to Meridian. Anti-mask protesters were not visible at the campaign event. Campaign spokeswoman Jess Mears said all Jorgensen’s rallies are being held outdoors to promote social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Blake Jones covers Kuna and Meridian for the Idaho Press. You can reach him at bjones@idahopress.com and follow him on Twitter @jonesblakej.

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