Trump Faces Hostile Reception at Libertarian National Convention

Jimmy Williams

Former President Donald Trump faced a hostile crowd at the Libertarian National Convention on Saturday night as he sought to court the party’s endorsement and votes. Held at the Washington Hilton, the event was marked by loud boos and jeers from attendees, especially when Trump solicited their votes.

Trump’s request for the Libertarian Party’s endorsement or votes was met with significant backlash. “I’m asking for the Libertarian Party’s endorsement, or at least lots of your votes, lots and lots of Libertarian votes,” he said, prompting the crowd to boo loudly in response. Trump criticized the Libertarians’ historical turnout, saying, “You can keep going the way you have for the last long decades and get your 3% and meet again, get another 3%,” which only incited further jeers from the audience.

The Libertarian Party’s 2020 nominee, Jo Jorgensen, garnered just over 1% of the vote in several swing states. However, in close races, these voters could potentially sway the election outcome between major-party candidates.

Throughout his speech, Trump faced continuous interruptions, with attendees hurling insults and even engaging in physical altercations. At one point, shouts of “Lock him up!” and “Donald Trump is a threat to democracy!” echoed through the venue. Other hecklers yelled, “F— you” and “You already had four years, you a–hole.”

Despite the hostility, Trump did receive some cheers, particularly when he mentioned his record of not starting new wars, his administration’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization, and his call to pardon January 6 defendants. One of the loudest ovations came when he promised to commute the life sentence of Ross Ulbricht, the operator of the “Silk Road” website. “If you vote for me, on Day One I will commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht,” Trump announced, leading to enthusiastic chants and “Free Ross” signs among the audience.

Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 for creating and operating the Silk Road, a hidden website used to buy and sell drugs and other illegal goods. His release has been a popular cause among libertarians.

However, Trump’s previous comments advocating for the death penalty for certain drug dealers contrasted sharply with his promise to free Ulbricht, leading some libertarians to view his vow as opportunistic. “Do you think Donald Trump even knew Ross Ulbricht’s name before he decided to come here and pander to us?” Libertarian politician Chase Oliver questioned the crowd after Trump’s speech.

Trump’s appearance at the convention highlighted his attempt to appeal to nontraditional Republican voters, despite the Libertarian Party’s historically low voter turnout. “What he’s really trying to do is to show that he can be a president for all Americans,” a Trump campaign official stated ahead of the event. “If you want to compete for nontraditional Republican votes, then you got to go where they are. You can’t expect them to just show up to you.”

Trump acknowledged the unusual decision to speak at the Libertarian convention, saying, “A lot of people ask why I came to speak at this Libertarian convention, and, you know, it’s an interesting question, isn’t it? But we’re going to have — but we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Despite some moments of support, the overall reception at the convention was a stark contrast to Trump’s typical rallies filled with enthusiastic supporters. The Libertarian crowd’s response underscored the challenges Trump faces in appealing to a broader, more ideologically diverse electorate.

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