Trump courts Libertarians to draw party activists away from RFK Jr.

Donald Trump will address the Libertarians’ National Convention on Saturday night in an effort to win over activists who are skeptical of the GOP front runner, and turn them away from independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The Libertarian National Convention is being held at the Washington Hilton hotel with the tagline: “Become Ungovernable.” 

Trump’s campaign says his appearance is part of an ongoing effort to reach would-be supporters in places that are not heavily Republican. For example, he held a rally Thursday in the Bronx during a pause in his New York hush money trial. His team was expecting some at the convention to oppose Trump, but hopes he will get credit for showing up and fighting for votes.

Libertarians will pick their White House nominee during the gathering in Washington that wraps up Sunday. Kennedy, who initially ran in the Democratic primary, addressed the convention Friday.

A significant of attendees wore MAGA hats. The convention was dotted with booths promoting mutual aid organizations, Libertarian comic books, Libertarian-themed food and drinks. Another stall sold T-shirts that said: “F— the vaccine.” 

The Libertarian Party has routinely invited both Republican and Democratic candidates to speak but this weekend marked the first time that an invite has been accepted. 

Tensions remained high leading up to Trump’s appearance. Supporters of the president showed up to the convention as the doors opened and took over areas reserved for Libertarian delegates – prompting Libertarian Party National Chair Angela McArdle to plead for civility. 

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One attendee, retired attorney William Yeniscavich, walked between aisles handing out signs reading “FREE ROSS,” a reference to Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the darknet marketplace Silk Road. Ulbricht was arrested in 2013 and remains in prison. 

During his presidency, Trump considered intervening to release Ulbricht but ultimately decided against the pardon. 

Polls have shown for months that most voters, even a majority of Democrats, do not want a 2020 rematch between Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden. That dynamic could potentially boost support for an alternative like the Libertarian nominee or Kennedy, whose candidacy has allies of Biden and Trump concerned that he could be a spoiler.

One attendee told Fox News Digital that the party “is kind of fragmented.” 

“Some are furious, they don’t want Republicrats to be involved in the party,” he said. “Another faction thinks it’s important for the press to have eyes on the Libertarian Party and discuss some grievances like ballot access.”

Tiffany Cianci, a pre-K music instructor and political TikTok creator, was attending the event to record the speech for her online followers. She told Fox News Digital that there was a distinct chance of disruption from the crowd during Trump’s speech.

Hundreds of attendees have been seen carrying rubber chickens capable of loud, sustained noise.”[American Values 2024] had the idea, then regular convention goers started buying a bunch of them, and they all started showing up,” she said.

“They’re not here to stop him from speaking, but they are here to let him know they feel very strongly that it’s an act of cowardice to avoid debating candidates and giving Americans choices.”

Seated in the front row was Manga Anantatamul, the Republican candidate for the 10th District of Virginia. Endorsed by the MAGA Caucus, she said was there to see Trump specifically. 

“I think their fiscal conservativism is the best thing — small government,” Anantatamul told Fox News Digital. “Those are some of the values we have to work with the Libertarians on.”

Before Trump began speaking, Libertarian delegates endorsed a variety of topics they hoped he would address including calls to liberate imprisoned WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and promote “peace not war.” Other topics they wanted to hear about overlapped with more traditional Republican rallying cries including “abolish the deep state” and “defend the Second Amendment.”

Trump previously praised Kennedy and once considered him for a commission on vaccination safety, but has changed his tone now. He suggested on social media that a vote for Kennedy would be a “wasted protest vote” and that he would “even take Biden over Junior.”

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