RENO (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, an underdog Texas congressman with a libertarian streak, has picked up an endorsement from a Nevada brothel owner.
Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite BunnyRanch near Carson City, said he was so impressed after hearing Paul at a campaign stop in Reno last week that he decided to raise money for him.
"I'll get all the (working girls) together, and we can raise him some money," Hof said. "I'll put up a collection box outside the door. They can drop in $1, $5 contributions."
Hof and two of his prostitutes, Brooke Taylor and a woman who goes by Air Force Amy, attended a Paul news conference.
The women said they liked Paul's message, but wanted to learn more about other candidates before making a decision.
Paul spokesman Jeff Greenspan said Paul is a diehard supporter of states rights and an ardent libertarian who wants to return the purview of the federal government to what is articulated in the U.S. Constitution. Paul also is a devout Christian who opposes abortion.
"On a personal basis, he doesn't condone those things," Greenspan said of prostitution. "At the same time, from his campaign perspective, it's not the role of federal government and it's not in the constitution for federal government to regulate these things.
"The Nevada voters and Legislature have decided it is legal activity in this state," he added.
In 1971, the Mustang Ranch near Reno became the state's first legal brothel and led to a movement that legalized prostitution in 12 of Nevada's 17 counties.
Hof was accompanied to the Paul news conference by television news personality Tucker Carlson, who is traveling with Paul for a magazine article he is writing.
"Dennis Hof is a good friend of mine, so when we got to Nevada, I decided to call him up and see if he wanted to come check this guy out," said Carlson, who hosts the show "Tucker" on MSNBC.