Trump's Unexpected Appearance At Libertarian Convention Sparks Controversy: Here's What Went Down!

By Maria Angelino | Tuesday, 28 May 2024 01:45 AM
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Image Credit : ABC News

At the Libertarian Party convention held over the weekend at the Washington Hilton hotel, former President Donald Trump was met with a chorus of boos during his speech.

His attempts to win over Libertarian voters, who have been critical of his policies on COVID-19, immigration, the drug war, and foreign affairs, as well as his support for warrantless spying and increased federal deficits, seemed to fall flat.

The convention was a platform for Libertarian presidential nominees, including Chase Oliver of Georgia, Michael Rectenwald of Pennsylvania, Charles Ballay of Louisiana, and Lars Mapstead of California, to make their case. Trump's presence at the convention was seen as an attempt to draw Libertarian voters away from their party's nominee or independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who also spoke at the event.

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As Trump took to the stage, he was met with boos from many Libertarians. However, some Republican supporters donning "Make America Great" merchandise cheered and chanted "USA! USA!" In his speech, Trump attempted to laud the "fierce champions of freedom in this room" and labeled President Joe Biden as a "tyrant" and the "worst president in the history of the United States." Some audience members retorted, "That's you."

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Trump's plea for Libertarians' endorsement and votes was met with jeers from the crowd. The former president, who is more accustomed to campaign rallies filled with his supporters, found himself in unfamiliar territory.

Libertarians, who value small government and individual freedoms, have long been critical of Trump. His invitation to the convention divided the party, with some arguing that a candidate opposed to Libertarian values should not be welcomed, while others praised the move for the media attention it would bring to the convention.

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Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, a former Republican primary presidential candidate who dropped out to endorse Trump, was another non-Libertarian speaker at the convention. Like Trump, Ramaswamy was met with boos when he mentioned Trump's name in his speech.

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Trump tried to appeal to the hostile crowd by referencing the four criminal indictments against him and joking, "If I wasn’t a Libertarian before, I sure as hell am a Libertarian now." However, as the boos and criticisms continued, Trump insulted the Libertarians he was trying to win over, saying, "Maybe you don't want to win … Keep getting your 3% every four years."

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Polls have shown that most voters do not want a rematch of the 2020 election between Trump and Biden. This could potentially allow an alternative like the Libertarian nominee, Kennedy Jr., or another third-party candidate to gain more support.

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Despite the hostile crowd, Trump continued his speech, stating he came "to extend a hand of friendship" in shared opposition to Biden. However, his promise to appoint a Libertarian to his Cabinet if elected president was met with hisses of disbelief from the crowd.

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The crowd did cheer when Trump pledged to commute the life prison sentence of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the anonymous marketplace website Silk Road, and potentially release him on time served. Ulbricht was convicted over his website being used to sell illegal drugs, even though he did not sell any of the items himself. Trump's promise was aimed at winning over Libertarians who believe government investigators overreached in their case against Silk Road and who generally oppose the War on Drugs.

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However, despite Trump's promises, many in the crowd remained hostile. Libertarian candidate Rectenwald said before Trump's arrival that "none of us are great fans of Donald Trump." Rectenwald and several other Libertarian candidates took the stage to scoff at Trump and his speech.

Kennedy Jr., in his speech at the convention, accused Trump and Biden of infringing on personal liberties during the coronavirus pandemic. He criticized Trump for succumbing to pressure from public health officials, like former White House chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci, and shutting down businesses. He also knocked Biden for mandating vaccines for millions of workers.

Trump's campaign claimed that his attendance at the convention was part of an effort to reach potential supporters in places that are not heavily Republican. This comes after his rally on Thursday in the deep blue Bronx during a pause in his New York hush money trial.

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