Trump Asks Libertarians to Endorse Him for President

WASHINGTON—Former President Donald Trump asked for the Libertarian Party’s endorsement for the presidency during their convention on May 25.

“I’m asking for the Libertarian Party’s endorsement, or at least lots of your votes … based on my four year, very outstanding presidential record,” President Trump said.

The remark was met with a mix of cheers and jeers from the divided crowd.

Meanwhile, President Trump emphasized his libertarian record, emphasizing areas where he reduced the size of the federal government, his non-interventionist approach to geopolitics, and his tax and regulation cuts.

“There are many things we did that are quite libertarian,” President Trump said.

He vowed to continue taking on the federal bureaucracy, noted his ongoing criminal cases which he said represent a political attack on him by President Joe Biden, and cited his foreign and economic policies, which generally align with those held by libertarians.

The former president also vowed that he would commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht, who’s spent over a decade in federal prison for creating and operating the dark net site Silk Road, which was used as a virtual front for drug sales. Many of those at the convention were waving signs reading “Free Ross.”

This could be the final remarks delivered by the former president before the end of his trial in New York, where he could be convicted of a series of felony charges.

But he made light of the situation in his opening remarks.

“In the last year, I’ve been indicted by the government on 91 different things,” President Trump said. “So if I wasn’t a libertarian before I sure as hell am a libertarian now.”

The comment got a whooping round of applause from the crowd.

David Dan, an attendee at the conference, cautioned President Trump to keep the promises he made to libertarians.

“There were a lot of sweeping libertarian promises made that I think, if he wins and he doesn’t keep them, there’s gonna be a lot of pitchforks.”

All three major presidential contenders—President Trump, President Biden, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—received invitations to speak.

President Trump’s address marks the first time in history that a former president has spoken to the Libertarian Party.

Mr. Kennedy addressed the convention on May 24.

President Biden, meanwhile, did not accept the invitation to address the convention.

But outside the Washington Hilton, where the convention is taking place, a mobile billboard funded by the Democrat-aligned PAC Move On flashed messages on May 24 cautioning attendees that Mr. Kennedy and his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, are funded by a pro-MAGA donor and their presence in the race props up President Trump.

President Trump’s address comes a day after Mr. Kennedy, who also accepted the invitation, spoke at the convention.

Speaking to the crowd of libertarians, Mr. Kennedy condemned both President Trump and President Biden for their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, accusing them of failure to respect the U.S. Constitution.

“There’s always a reason why, right now, the rights are an inconvenience that we can’t afford. It was the Red Scare in the 1920s. It was Joe McCarthy in the 1950s. It was civil rights protests and the Vietnam War protests in the 1960s. It was the war on drugs in the 1970s. It was the war on terror after 2001. And most recently, it was the COVID pandemic,” Mr. Kennedy said.

This isn’t the first time that President Trump has faced pushback for his handling of COVID-19—an issue which many libertarians, with their emphasis on small government, have long expressed concerns about.

NTD Photo
Former President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to address the Libertarian National Convention in Washington on May 25, 2024. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Hostile Crowd

President Trump has sometimes taken a libertarian approach on various issues, particularly in his anti-interventionist approach to foreign policy and concentration on cutting federal business regulations and taxes.

But in other areas, including his handling of COVID-19 and his protectionist trade policies, he has broken with libertarian positions.

For many in the Libertarian Party, ideological purity to libertarian positions is a key litmus test.

And because of his breaks with libertarians on various issues, President Trump found himself facing a much more hostile and skeptical crowd than he’s used to.

Many in the crowd were openly hostile to President Trump, with some shouting derogatory comments and insults toward the stage.

Elsewhere, President Trump was met with boos.

One attendee walking out of President Trump’s speech loudly sang a derogatory song, saying “[expletive] Donald Trump” and that he was “just as bad as” President Biden.

Still, President Trump has tried to make inroads with the right-leaning faction.

On May 24, entrepreneur and former candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who’s served as something of a right-hand man to President Trump since he dropped his presidential bid, called for “a Libertarian nationalist alliance that rescues this country and revives what our founding fathers envisioned.”

Mr. Ramaswamy remarked that former President Trump has “strong libertarian instincts,” while Mr. Kennedy “is in no sense a Libertarian.”

The dig at Mr. Kennedy comes at a conference where many attendees were sporting “Kennedy Shanahan 2024″ shirts and hats.

Midway through Mr. Ramaswamy’s press conference, a convention attendee shouted derogatory remarks at him for being at the event and not endorsing one of the party’s presidential candidates. Mr. Ramaswamy said the man was entitled to his free speech before resuming his comments.

“I think the Libertarian Party is also at a fork in the road this year,” Mr. Ramaswamy said. “I think the question the Libertarian Party has to ask is what is its goal? Is the goal to achieve at maximum 3 percent of the general vote, or is the goal to actually shape policy in this country in a meaningful way and work together with what I hope is the next administration, the Trump administration, in the second term, to actualize the vision of this Libertarian movement?”

The speech comes after President Trump faced criticism from Mr. Kennedy the night before.

During his remarks, Mr. Kennedy emphasized President Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Trump was reluctant to impose lockdowns early in the COVID pandemic, but he relented, and “many of our most fundamental rights disappeared practically overnight,” Mr. Kennedy noted.

Mr. Kennedy continued by criticizing the former president for “allowing his health regulators to mandate social distancing, which undermined our First Amendment right to freedom of assembly.”

“With no due process, no public hearings, and no notice,” America was locked down during the pandemic by President Trump, Mr. Kennedy added.

“Maybe a brain worm ate that part of my memory, but I don’t recall any part of the United States Constitution where there’s an exemption for pandemics,” he added, making light of a recent report that doctors had found a dead worm in Mr. Kennedy’s brain in 2010.

During his address, Mr. Kennedy also hailed journalist Julian Assange as a hero and reiterated that he would pardon him and Edward Snowden on his first day in office. Both are often considered more heroic than villainous by libertarians.

“We shouldn’t be putting [Julian Assange] in prison; we should have a monument to him here in Washington D.C.,” Mr. Kennedy said.

President Trump made no mention of either man during his own remarks.

The address does have some stakes for President Trump: Many libertarian voters tend toward the right, and their support could be instrumental in pushing him over the finish line in tight battleground races.

In 2020, had a few libertarians shifted their votes from candidate Jo Jorgensen to President Trump, that race could have ended in a 269–269 tie that would have gone to the House for adjudication.

This year, states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin could be decided by similarly thin margins, and a boost from a handful of libertarian voters could help prop up President Trump in those states.

From The Epoch Times

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