Trump and RFK Jr. Face Hostile Reception at Libertarian Convention

Trump and RFK Jr. Face Hostile Reception at Libertarian Convention

Trump and RFK Jr. Face Hostile Reception at Libertarian Convention

By Boniface Ihiasota, USA

Donald Trump and Independent Presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. faced significant opposition at the Libertarian Party’s convention in Washington, D.C., over the weekend. Both attempted to court the Libertarian vote but were met with mockery and interruptions from the third-party attendees, Excel Magazine International reports.

On Saturday, Trump’s speech was marked by chaos as Libertarian attendees clashed with Trump supporters. The disruptions led to multiple removals from the room, with the crowd divided between jeers, boos, and chants. Trump attempted to appeal to the Libertarians, stating, “You can either nominate us and give us the position, or give us your votes.” This was met with boos as he left the stage.

Trump responded to the hostility by criticizing the Libertarian Party’s electoral success, remarking, “Keep getting your 3% [of the national vote] every four years. Maybe you don’t want to win.” Despite his attempts, the reception remained overwhelmingly negative.

In his pitch, Trump advocated for the commutation of Ross Ulbricht’s life sentence. Ulbricht, the founder of the Silk Road website, is a cause célèbre within the Libertarian Party, which has included his release in its platform. Trump’s stance on Ulbricht was a stark contrast to his previous calls for harsh penalties for drug dealers during his 2020 reelection campaign.

On Friday, Kennedy, who received a warmer reception than Trump, sought to win over Libertarians by promising to pardon government whistleblower Edward Snowden and drop espionage charges against Julian Assange.

Excel Magazine International observes that both figures are revered in Libertarian circles. Kennedy also criticized Trump for his handling of the pandemic, accusing him of violating the Constitution by permitting lockdowns and travel restrictions. His remarks on Snowden and Assange drew cheers, though some Libertarians questioned his alignment with their principles.

The Libertarian Party leadership’s decision to host Trump and Kennedy proved contentious. The move sparked aggressive reactions from delegates, with some seeking to exclude both candidates from the event. Convention organizers had also invited President Biden, who declined to attend.

Libertarian Party leaders defended the decision to invite Trump and Kennedy, emphasizing the opportunity for members to engage directly with influential political figures. “We are denied a place on the debate stage, so we decided to make our own stage the focal point of the world’s eyes,” said Brian McWilliams, the Libertarian National Party communications director.

The presence of Trump and Kennedy sparked heated reactions during the convention’s business sessions. Delegates were heard shouting profanities at Libertarian Party chair Angela McArdle, objecting to the candidates’ participation. Security had to escort one man out of the session.

Some attendees, like Arielle Shack from New Jersey, attended Kennedy’s speech in protest. “We don’t want people that are not Libertarians here. If they don’t have our principles, we’re not going to vote for them,” she said.

Opinions on the invitations were divided. Richard Edgar, a Libertarian voter from New Jersey, felt it was a “slap in the face” to those expecting to hear from Libertarian candidates. Conversely, Michael Reeves, a delegate from Alabama, viewed the candidates’ attendance as a sign of the Libertarian Party’s growing influence.

Reeves expressed disappointment in both Trump and Kennedy. “I thought [Trump] had an opportunity to really make some changes in D.C., and he didn’t,” he said, adding that both major parties are pushing the country towards a “more collectivist and authoritarian state.”

While Trump and Kennedy sought to gain support from Libertarian voters, their appearances at the convention highlighted deep divisions within the party. The event underscored the challenges third-party movements face in the current political landscape.

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