Trump loudly booed at Libertarian convention when he asks attendees to ‘nominate me or at least vote for me’


Washington, DC
CNN
 — 

Former President Donald Trump was loudly and consistently booed throughout his speech Saturday at the Libertarian Party’s national convention, particularly when he asked attendees to “nominate me or at least vote for me.”

The heckling began the moment the former president took the stage, and some of his supporters in the room tried to drown out the boos with chants of “We want Trump.”

“Now I think you should nominate me or at least vote for me, and we should win together,” Trump said. “Because the Libertarians want to vote for me … and it’s very important because we have to get rid of the worst president in history.”

Trump added, “Only do that if you want to win; if you want to lose, don’t do that. Keep getting your 3% every four years.” (In 2016, Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson earned more than 3% of the popular vote – a high point in the party’s history.)

Trump left the stage after 34 minutes, marking one of his shortest campaign speeches to date. The Libertarian Party is expected to select its presidential nominee Sunday.

Trump’s stop at the Libertarian convention marked an unconventional one for a presumptive Republican nominee, but it is illustrative of his campaign’s intensifying concern over third-party candidates. The outreach to Libertarians follows weeks of stepped-up attacks by Trump aimed at Robert F. Kennedy Jr., whose high-profile independent White House bid is increasingly viewed by the former president’s advisers as a potential problem in an election expected to be decided by a narrow margin in a handful of states.

Kennedy addressed the convention Friday, and his running mate, Nicole Shanahan, attended Trump’s speech and is set to speak Sunday.

The scene inside the Washington Hilton was at times raucous, as Trump supporters and Libertarians clashed. The chair of the Libertarian Party took the stage ahead of Trump’s speech to tell supporters of the former president sitting in the front rows to make room for the Libertarian delegates.

“I don’t want to, like, fight with people or beg and plead. Let’s just make room for the delegates, because those are the people you’re trying to persuade, right? You are already sold. Our delegates are not sold, and President Trump is here to try to sell them,” Angela McArdle said.

“Those of you who are Donald Trump supporters, I think what I would like to see tonight is for us to all get along and come to an understanding and find areas of agreement even if we don’t agree to vote for the same person,” she added.

Also ahead of the speech, Secret Service agents confiscated rubber chickens that the super PAC aligned with Kennedy’s presidential campaign had passed out to attendees.

“No lighters, no water bottles, no noisy chickens,” one agent yelled to attendees waiting to go through the security checkpoint.

Tony Lyons, the co-chair of the pro-Kennedy American Values 2024 super PAC, confirmed to CNN that the group had distributed the rubber chickens at the convention Saturday.

Jose Luis Magana/AP

Attendees jeer Trump as he speaks at the Libertarian convention on May 25, 2024.

Libertarians in the crowd at times confronted Trump supporters, and some audience members were escorted out of the venue. One Libertarian critic of Trump was forced to leave after CNN observed him throwing a punch at a Trump-supporting audience member. Several people toward the front of the room turned their backs to Trump as he spoke.

One of Trump’s few loud applause lines Saturday came when he announced that if elected, he would commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the underground website Silk Road, which let users anonymously buy and sell anything from drugs to hacking tutorials. Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 following his conviction on seven counts ranging from money laundering to drug trafficking, and many attendees at the Libertarian convention have been arguing for his pardon.

Trump also received cheers when he said he would put a Libertarian in his Cabinet and appoint Libertarians to senior positions in his administration in a potential second term.

Prior to the speech, the Trump campaign said it anticipated getting an unfriendly reception from some attendees – former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, now a Trump surrogate, received loud boos when he mentioned the former president in his speech at the convention Friday.

“Do we know that it’s not exactly home base? Absolutely. There will be people who want him to be there and people who don’t want him to be there, but we’re on offense and competing for nontraditional votes in order to unite the country,” Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller told CNN.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s campaign cast Trump as “anti-freedom” ahead of his address.

“Donald Trump says his Republican Party is the party of freedom, but tell that to the women who have had the freedom to make their own health care decisions ripped away and their pregnancies monitored by the government,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said in a statement Saturday.

Biden was also invited to speak at the convention but didn’t respond, McArdle told CNN earlier.

At a news conference immediately following Trump’s speech, Chase Oliver, a Libertarian presidential candidate, said that he believed it was a mistake to invite Trump but that he was proud that Libertarians heckled the former president during his remarks.

“I don’t like having a war criminal on this stage. I don’t feel he deserves a spot on this stage,” Oliver said. “While I think it was a mistake to have invited Donald Trump, I’m glad he got to see a glimpse of what a real Libertarian reception feels like.”

Michael Rectenwald, another Libertarian presidential candidate, said he believed the party achieved some gains by inviting Trump to the convention, pointing to the former president’s commitment to commute Ulbricht’s sentence.

“We got a major political party candidate to say that he would free Ross Ulbricht,” Rectenwald said at the news conference. “We moved the needle toward liberty.”

Still, Rectenwald acknowledged that Trump’s remarks were unlikely to persuade Libertarians to vote for the former president.

“There are no people in this room in the Libertarian Party at risk for falling for Trump’s bullsh*t,” he said.

Trent Nestle, a Libertarian delegate from Tennessee, told CNN that Trump’s pledge to commute Ulbricht’s sentence wouldn’t be enough to convince him to back the former president.

“I want to see it happen,” Nestle said. “It won’t change my vote in November.”

CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.


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