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Presidential Race Takes Libertarian Tilt In Nev.


And in case you missed it, the Libertarian Party held its national nominating convention in Las Vegas yesterday and chose a former Republican named Gary Johnson as its presidential nominee. Meanwhile, in Sparks, Nevada, supporters of Republican presidential contender Ron Paul dominated the state's GOP convention with Paul himself addressing the gathering. NPR's David Welna has more.

DAVID WELNA, BYLINE: It came as no surprise that the Libertarian Party put Gary Johnson at the top of its ticket. He got 70 percent of the votes at the party's nominating convention after dropping out as a candidate in the Republican presidential race in January. The former two-term GOP governor of New Mexico wants to pull the U.S. troops out of Afghanistan immediately. He wants same-sex marriage recognized nationally and he wants marijuana legalized, much as alcohol was when Prohibition ended.

GARY JOHNSON: I don't smoke pot. I don't drink alcohol. But I have drank alcohol and I have smoked marijuana, and I will tell you that in no category is marijuana more dangerous than alcohol.

WELNA: Johnson hopes to get the minimum 15 percent support in national polls that he'd need to be in next fall's presidential debates. For that, Johnson is counting on the supporters of Ron Paul, the 1988 Libertarian presidential candidate and who seems to have little chance of being the Republican nominee this year. But Paul is showing no signs of dropping out of the GOP presidential race. Yesterday, he brought hundreds of supporters to their feet at the GOP state convention here in Sparks.

RON PAUL: I think it's very important that we restore confidence in the Republican Party, that we are the fiscal conservatives, we care about personal liberty and we care about a foreign policy that provides for a strong national defense without going into war carelessly.


WELNA: Paul supporters packed the convention, as they have in other states that held primary caucuses. They don't consider Mitt Romney the inevitable Republican facing off with President Obama in November, even though Paul has not yet won a single primary. David Welna, NPR News, Sparks, Nevada.


MARTIN: You're listening to NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Welna is NPR's national security correspondent.