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N.H. Libertarian party calls for end to child labor laws; Gary Johnson disagrees

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson appeared with running mate and former Massachusetts governor William "Bill" Weld at a Boston campaign rally in 2016.
Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson appeared with running mate and former Massachusetts governor William "Bill" Weld at a Boston campaign rally in 2016.Photo by Katherine Taylor for The Boston Globe

The New Hampshire branch of the Libertarian party came out in favor of child labor Monday, a position that brought a social-media scolding from Gary Johnson, the party’s two-time presidential nominee, who described the idea as “out of touch.”

“Legalize child labor. Children will learn more on a job site than in public school,” the state Libertarian Party said on its verified Twitter account.

“At the very least, the minimum age to work is a states’ rights issue. Federal minimum work ages are unconstitutional,” the party continued in a second tweet.

“Child labor laws don’t prevent 4-year-olds from working in the coal mines, they prevent 14-year-olds from working in flower shops,” it said in a third and final tweet, which included a link to an article on the website of the Foundation for Economic Education, a libertarian group.

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The article describes the difficulties of young teens in securing summer jobs and argues against both child labor laws and rising minimum wage requirements.

Johnson, a former New Mexico governor who was the Libertarian presidential nominee in 2012 and 2016, was having none of it.

“I’m sorry, but no,” Johnson said in a tweet. “This isn’t what libertarianism means to millions of Americans — pushing a disturbing and out of touch stance on child labor is entirely detached from what people need in America today. This does not advance liberty, or help change people’s opinions.”

The party’s thread drew widespread mockery and condemnation from other Twitter users, including one who wrote, “Libertarians are the Howard Stern of politics. They aim to shock you for the sake of doing it.”

Johnson received 8,212 votes for president in New Hampshire in 2012, as Barack Obama carried the state with 369,561 votes. Johnson garnered 30,777 New Hampshire votes in 2016, when his running mate was former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, compared to 348,526 for Hillary Clinton, the state’s winner.

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Jo Jorgensen, the party’s 2020 nominee, brought home 13,236 votes in New Hampshire last November, when President Biden won the state with 424,937 votes.


Jeremy C. Fox can be reached at jeremy.fox@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeremycfox.