BRATTLEBORO -- Jim Gray is a candidate for vice president of the United States.
But he's not traveling the country with an entourage of aides, a security detail or a motorcade. In fact, he rolled into Brattleboro Friday morning in a minivan.
The former federal prosecutor, longtime judge and California resident believes the time has come for his Libertarian Party to make an impact on presidential politics.
"This can be done. As Libertarians, we are in the mainstream of American political thought," Gray said. "We are financially responsible and socially tolerant."
Gray is the running mate of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor. And while Gray said Johnson expects to be on the general election ballot in all 50 states (he's listed as a candidate in Vermont), he's miffed that his party's nominee for the country's top elected office has not been invited to major debates.
"The people are being deprived of that voice," Gray said.
Libertarian candidate Bob Barr gained just 0.4 percent of the vote in the November 2008 presidential election -- less than Independent candidate Ralph Nader.
But Gray argues that the Libertarian ticket could have broad appeal: In an interview at the Reformer, he described the party as both right of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and left of Democratic President Barack Obama.
The economy is a top issue. And Gray claims Republicans
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who carries a reputation as a budget-cutter in Congress, "won't balance the budget for 28 years," Gray said. "We will present a balanced budget now."
He added that Johnson would "conduct an audit of the federal government using generally accepted accounting methods" in order to cut costs effectively.
On the other hand, Gray said Libertarians are "coming at Mr. Obama from the left. We are classic liberals."
As examples, he said Johnson would work to repeal the Patriot Act and to close the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention center. Obama has not shut the prison even though he promised to do so during his 2008 candidacy.
Citing his party's support for gay marriage, Gray said Obama simply was "pandering to the voters" when he expressed that same sentiment for the first time earlier this year.
Another Libertarian tenet -- relaxed enforcement of some drug laws -- is a longtime cause for Gray. As a sitting judge in 1992, he held a press conference to criticize the nation's drug policy.
And he authored a book titled "Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It."
Gray said his party supports legalizing marijuana and regulating the drug in the same way that the government regulates alcohol.
"You see us churning low-level drug offenders through the (criminal-justice) system for no good reason," Gray said.
Gray also cited education, jobs and the economy as top issues. He called for the dissolution of the Internal Revenue Service, the repeal of the income tax and enactment of a "retail consumption tax."
And while reiterating his party's absolute support for "private property rights," he contends a Libertarian administration still would regulate air and water pollution.
"We need an Environmental Protection Agency," Gray said. "We need standards."
Mike Faher can be reached at email@example.com or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.