- Associated Press - Friday, October 28, 2016

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - Libertarian vice presidential nominee Bill Weld sees a receptive audience for his ticket’s message in Alaska, a state where he’s investing time in the run-up to the Nov. 8 general election.

Weld capped a two-day campaign trip to Alaska Friday with a rally in the state’s largest city, Anchorage.

Alaska, with just three electoral votes, isn’t battleground territory but it’s a place where Weld and running mate Gary Johnson hope to make a statement in a year in which the two major party nominees are polarizing.

In a phone interview before Friday evening’s rally, Weld said he and Johnson would like to win some states and are hoping to do well enough to bring greater visibility to the Libertarian party. That includes winning sufficient support to allow the party ticket in 2020 to be eligible for federal matching funds, he said.

That would be good for the party, which some people see as mysterious, he said. “And frankly, that would be good for the country, irrespective of the outcome of this year’s election,” Weld said.

Both Weld and Johnson are former Republican governors, Weld in Massachusetts and Johnson in New Mexico.

Weld said they’re undaunted by any suggestion that they might play spoiler in the race. “Our point of view is that the only wasted vote is to vote for someone you don’t believe in,” he said.

Weld characterized the Libertarian party as a “fiscally responsible and socially inclusive.”

On issues of interest to Alaska, he said he and Johnson think there should be more emphasis on trade with the Pacific. They also believe the nation needs to focus on pipelines and ports, he said.

He said he supports Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her re-election bid, saying that he has worked with her and is impressed with her.

One of Murkowski’s rivals is Joe Miller, who beat her in the 2010 GOP primary. Murkowski held onto her seat, though, after winning a general election write-in campaign.

Miller is running this year as a Libertarian, becoming a last-minute substitution on that party’s ticket last month.

Weld said he is sure that Miller is a fine person. But he said Miller is a “devoted social conservative” and Weld said he is a “devoted social liberal.” He said Miller doesn’t speak for him.

Miller has said his views are in line with the platform of the Alaska Libertarian party, which he said is a “states’ rights-oriented platform.”

In an interview earlier this month, Miller said he sees a lot of good in Johnson’s platform, including balancing the debt. But he said there are a lot of areas of disagreement, too. Miller said he’s supporting Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Murkowski hasn’t said who she’s voting for, though she has said she can’t support Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Weld said he bumped into Murkowski Friday at the hotel where he was staying but didn’t try to pitch her on supporting him and Johnson.

“I’m not going to take advantage of a chance meeting to make a serious plug,” he said.

In Alaska, registered Republicans far outnumber Democrats but the single largest voting bloc is independents. State election statistics show there are only about 7,500 registered Libertarians in Alaska.

The last time Alaska voters supported a Democratic nominee for president was 1964; the state has supported the GOP ticket since.

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Follow Becky Bohrer at https://twitter.com/beckybohrerap .

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