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4 presidential candidates featured at Texas Tribune Festival

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MSNBC contributor Toure moderates discussion on the “State of Black America” with speakers Kasim Reed, Ivy Taylor and Allen West at the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival. .
Photo by: Bri Watkins | Staff Photographer

A festival hosted for the purpose of sharing knowledge, opening dialogue and exchanging ideas, brought together four past and current candidates for president of the United States.

At the 6th annual Texas Tribune Festival, upwards of 4,000 people came together to watch panels of government officials, political juggernauts and outspoken individuals share their ideas covering a wide variety of topics. This year there were four current and former 2016 presidential candidates featured at the event, three of which were keynote speakers.

John Kasich, governor of Ohio and former presidential candidate, kicked off the festival as the keynote speaker Friday night. During his one-on-one session with Evan Smith, CEO of The Texas Tribune, Kasich said he is not supporting Hillary Clinton, but is no closer to supporting his party’s nominee Donald Trump.

Kasich tackled social issues such as religion in politics by taking a firm stance against faith informing political policies. He said religious people in the United States have done a good job making religion look terrible and while he is a man of faith, he does not open a Bible to figure out how he feels about issues.

“We need to have people of faith stay the hell out of politics,” Kasich said.

Senator Ted Cruz’s decision to endorse Trump’s candidacy left Kasich as one of the remaining former candidates to not publicly support either of the major party’s nominees. However, when asked about Cruz’s decision, Kasich did not comment.

The first question Smith asked Cruz during their Saturday keynote one-on-one was “What happened to voting in good conscious?” Smith is referring to statements Cruz made during the primaries about not supporting Trump out of good conscious.

“I’m not the only voter who agonized about what’s the right thing to do in the election,” Cruz said.

During this conversation boos were heard throughout the auditorium, while some were clapping in support of Cruz’s endorsement. However, the audience erupted in disagreement when Cruz gave his perspective on the Black Lives Matter Movement.

“I think many members of the African American community perceive that they are being treated unfairly,” Cruz said as boos and yelling from the audience resonated through the auditorium.

Gary Johnson, the Libertarian party nominee, said he recognizes the black lives matter movement and he feels discrimination is rooted in the war on drugs, which could potentially be alleviated with the legalization of marijuana.

The moderator Matthew Dowd, chief political analyst for ABC News, asked Johnson which candidate scares him more, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Instead of answering directly, Johnson said his biggest fear is not being in the mix come Election Day.

Evan McMullin, Independent presidential candidate, is confident in his campaign and his preparedness for the presidency. McMullin did not hold back when asked about the other candidates in the race.

“Donald Trump is a racist—Trump is a racist brand, and we need to stand up for equality,” McMullin said. He added that the GOP’s failure to denounce Trump’s racism makes him question the party as a politically viable vehicle for the conservative movement.

When asked about the libertarian and democratic candidates, McMullin said Johnson continually proves he is unfit to be president and took the same position regarding Clinton.

McMullin said he is pro-life and believes in the traditional sense of marriage because of his faith. However, he recognizes that not all Americans share his faith or beliefs. He said all American leaders should stand-up for equality because without equality, you cannot have liberty.

Both McMullin and Johnson will not featured in Monday night’s presidential debate. In order to be featured in the debates candidates must be polling nationally at 15 percent or above and neither them nor Jill Stein, Green party candidate, made the cut.

McMullin’s one-on-one closed out the festival and Smith thanked the audience for making this the most successful year of the event. Smith said he created this event to open up a dialogue that will continue on even after everyone leaves the festival, and he feels the goal was achieved this year.