SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) _ Gov. Gary Johnson endorsed Steve Forbes for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination Thursday, describing him through a spokeswoman as ``the man with the ideas.''

The Republican governor said, however, he will support whoever wins the party's nomination, according to his spokeswoman, Diane Kinderwater.

Both Forbes and Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the GOP front-runner, supported Johnson in his re-election campaign last year. Johnson has been Bush's guest at the Governor's Mansion in Austin.

``Should George Bush win the nomination, he will work hard to support him for the presidency,'' Kinderwater said. She said Johnson wrote to Bush about his decision to endorse Forbes.

``He feels strongly about the fact that Steve Forbes takes the high road and he talks about the issues,'' Kinderwater said. ``He's the man with the ideas.''

Johnson was not available for comment Thursday, the spokeswoman said.

Welcoming the endorsement, Forbes praised the Republican governor for promising to halt new tax increases and to streamline New Mexico's state government.

Forbes came to Albuquerque last July and was the featured speaker at two fund-raising events for Johnson.

At the time, Johnson's campaign spokesman Doug Turner said the two were ``like-minded philosophically in that people do better in an environment with less-intrusive government.''