NEW ORLEANS -- The biggest news out of Gary Johnson's speech isn't going to be any measure of where Johnson stands in his quest to get the Republican presidential nomination. The former New Mexico governor is decidedly lower tier, and the polite listening here for the most part is proof of that.
But there is a growing Republican split emerging on foreign policy, especially on Afghanistan. Johnson and Rep. Ron Paul's brand of Libertarian, non-interventionist foreign policy is becoming more mainstream, and that was evident here as well with this socially conservative crowd.
"Let's get out of Iraq and Afghanistan tomorrow," Johnson boasted. About half the crowd applauded. One man whistled. But he's the same man who did so when Johnson called for the legalization of marijuana.
That Johnson or Paul calls for getting out of conflicts places is one thing, but Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS), when most thought he was running for president, called for an end to the war in Afghanistan. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, who is going to announce his bid for the presidency Tuesday, is the latest to take up the mantle. And Mitt Romney, the presumed front-runner, seemed to open the door to it as well during the GOP debate Monday.