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SAUNDERS: Libertarian Party says ‘Become ungovernable.’ Trump says OK

WASHINGTON

Former President Donald Trump had a message for the Libertarian National Convention Saturday night: Vote for me or lose again.

The confab appeared split between die-hard MAGA fans, who cheered on the former president, and hard-core Libertarians, who booed when Trump took the stage. The mix was perfect for a convention with the theme, “Become ungovernable.”

While supporters and opponents shouted at each other, Trump himself appeared relaxed and game for the boisterous evening ahead. He began by noting it was a great honor to be the first president in U.S. history to address a Libertarian National Convention.

Cheers and boos.

(Did I mention there were a number of bars in the lobby and full plastic cups in the convention hall?)

Trump started with the admission that some wondered why he came to speak at the convention for a rival third-party.

The answer: With 91 felony charges aimed at him, he offered, “If I wasn’t a Libertarian before I sure as hell am a Libertarian now.”

More cheers and boos.

When anti-Trumpers heckled him, Trump coolly responded that Libertarians now had a choice: vote for him, or get used to “getting your 3 percent every four years.”

And really, Trump’s math was generous. In 2016, the Libertarian ticket, headed by former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, attracted 3.3 percent of the popular vote. Most years from 1972 on, Libertarians claimed less than 1 percent of ballots.

Be it noted, 1 to 3 percent in a swing state could be a game changer when the Electoral College vote is counted. Hence the anger which the Left has directed at independent candidate for president Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Kennedy spoke to the Libertarian convention at the Washington Hilton on Friday. So the Libertarian Party’s big name speakers this year were the presumptive Republican nominee and a candidate who until recently was a Democrat.

By showing up at the Libertarian confab, Trump showed a willingness to fight for the support of voters whom the political class often ignores. He calls them “the forgotten man.” With that, Trump’s top billing might hurt the Libertarian Party among members, but the move certainly didn’t hurt the Trump campaign.

My guess is Trump left the event with more votes than he had before he began his 35-minute remarks. And President Joe Biden seemed to be the last thing on the minds of those in the room.

Since 2015, Trump has been offering Republicans a choice: relevancy over purity. In speaking to Libertarians, Trump has expanded this choice to the country’s third largest political party.

Trump wasn’t coy about what he was willing to do to woo the room. The 45th president baldly pledged to place a Libertarian in his Cabinet, as well as to other big-shot positions.

“We’ll be watching and waiting to see if he follows through on his promises to put a Libertarian in his Cabinet,” Libertarian National Committee Chair Angela McArdle said of Trump in a statement.

Do I think Trump will put a Libertarian in his Cabinet if he wins a second term? Yes, I do.

Contact Review-Journal Washington columnist Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com. Follow @debrajsaunders on Twitter.

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