'Porcfest' Voters Want A Candidate To Leave Them Alone

A unique political event is winding down in the mountains of New Hampshire: the Porcupine Freedom Festival, or "Porcfest." The event is an offshoot of the Free State Project, a movement to colonize New Hampshire with people who believe government should do no more than protect individual rights. NHPR's Josh Rogers stops by to hear what they're thinking about next year's presidential campaign.

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Raising money has also been tough for little-known Republican presidential candidate Gary Johnson. The former New Mexico governor has called his own fundraising pathetic. Johnson is hoping to jump-start his campaign at a unique political event winding down now in the mountains of New Hampshire. It is the Porcupine Freedom Festival, or Porcfest, and it's an offshoot of the Free State Project, a movement to colonize the Live Free or Die state with people who believe government should do no more than protect individual rights.

New Hampshire Public Radio's Josh Rogers has more.

JOSH ROGERS: Much like their spiky mascot, pilgrims at Porcfest mostly want to be left alone - particularly by government.

Mr. SOVEREIGN CURTIS (Organizer, Porcfest): They vote for no one. Nobody.

ROGERS: That's Porcfest lead organizer, an anarchist who goes by the name Sovereign Curtis. Curtis was between pulls on a marijuana pipe outside an event called the big gay dance party. Curtis thinks many Porcfest attendees will probably skip the 2012 elections because he says government is corrupt, period. But Curtis admits a soft spot for a certain congressman from Texas.

Mr. CURTIS: I'm a big fan of Ron Paul. I tell people he's my favorite government thug. But he's still a government thug, you know.

ROGERS: Linda Ligana says seeing Ron Paul on C-SPAN was her political awakening. Ligana volunteered on Paul's 2008 presidential campaign, but she's also partial to former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.

Ms. LINDA LIGANA: If I could have a T-shirt, one side would say Ron Paul and the other side would say Gary Johnson.

ROGERS: And as far as the rest of the people running, like...

Ms. LIGANA: Nobody, nobody I would support.

ROGERS: That view was common at this burning man of libertarianism, where some wore pistols and knocked back cocktails, and others practiced yoga and traded silver as currency. But could embracing such a counter-cultural crowd be good politics for a would-be president? Gary Johnson seemed to think so.

Mr. GARY JOHNSON: Those things don't bother me at all.

ROGERS: Johnson acted like another face in the crowd though he was happy to talk to anyone who approached. The Republican knows he's a long shot. But he says if New Hampshire was right for the Free State Project it might just be right for him.

Mr. JOHNSON: And I just thought, wow, this is really terrific. And that it came here, man, it just speaks volumes, you know, to New Hampshire.

ROGERS: Porcfest wraps up today. But attendees say the spirit of liberty is sure to linger.

For NPR News, I'm Josh Rogers in Concord, New Hampshire.

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