Trump seeks to woo Libertarians as RFK Jr. attacks Trump's lockdown record

Republicans have traditionally advocated for reducing the size of the federal government, lowering taxes, and the Second Amendment, all of which generally align with libertarian-minded voters.

Published: May 24, 2024 11:00pm

Former President Donald Trump will speak at the Libertarian National Convention on Saturday, seeking to win support from a bloc of voters traditionally distrustful of the federal government.

The Libertarian Party is relatively small and its 2020 presidential candidate, Jo Jorgensen, earned just over 1% of the vote in that contest. Nonetheless, in what is likely to be a close presidential election, even a small number of voters could tip the balance and Trump’s push to win over libertarian-leaning voters could prove decisive.

"President Trump looks forward to addressing the Libertarian Convention on Saturday, where he will share his vision for a free and more prosperous America. Crooked Joe Biden and Radical Leftist RFK Jr. both believe in increasing the size of the federal bureaucracy, higher taxes, and infringing upon the rights of law-abiding, freedom-loving citizens,” Trump National Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt told Just the News.

Republicans have traditionally advocated for reducing the size of the federal government, lowering taxes, and the Second Amendment, all of which generally align with libertarian-minded voters. Trump, however, has often feuded with some of the more libertarian members within his own party, namely Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., largely over federal spending and COVID-19 policies.

"Libertarians are some of the most independent and thoughtful thinkers in our Country, and I am honored to join them in Washington, DC, later this month," Trump said in a statement announcing his appearance. "We all have to remember that our goal is to defeat the Worst President in the History of the United States, BY FAR, Crooked Joe Biden. If Libertarians join me and the Republican Party, where we have many Libertarian views, the election won’t even be close. We cannot have another four years of death, destruction, and incompetence. WE WILL WORK TOGETHER AND WIN!”

“For 50 years, we've been trying to get our candidates on the main stage with major party POTUS candidates and we've finally succeeded in bringing one to our stage. We will do everything in our power to use this incredible opportunity to advance the message of liberty,” Libertarian National Committee Chairwoman Angela McArdle said at the time.

Trump will not be alone, however, in courting Libertarian voters for his presidential campaign. His Saturday address will follow independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who appeared Friday afternoon.

Reports in March suggested that Kennedy had been in talks with the Libertarian Party about seeking their nomination for president. Fueling the reports was a February meeting between Kennedy and McCardle. 

“The Kennedy campaign is keeping all its options open,” the campaign said at the time. But nothing came of it and Kennedy’s ultimate choice of Nicole Shanahan as his running mate left the Libertarians somewhat puzzled.

"So I’m really unsure how she’s going to fit in with the Libertarian Party. You know, I’m anxious to hear about it," McCardle said. "I think that a lot of libertarians are a little bit confused over why he chose Nicole Shanahan. I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but she doesn’t necessarily fit into alignment with any of our views." Shanahan, a Silicon Valley lawyer walked away with more than $1 billion following her divorce from ex-husband and Google co-founder Sergey Brin, according to the New York Post.

Kennedy, for his part, has heavily emphasized medical freedom throughout his campaign. He has been a noted skeptic of vaccine efficacy and mandates and a prominent critic of COVID-19 lockdowns and the responses thereto by both the Biden and Trump administrations.

Earlier this month, Kennedy challenged Trump to debate at the convention, highlighting that many of Trump’s libertarian-leaning former supporters had flocked to him, due in part, to frustrations over Trump’s COVID-19 and budgetary policies.

"I’m drawing a lot of voters from your former supporters," Kennedy said. "They are upset that you blew up the deficit, shut down their businesses during Covid, and filled your administration with swamp creatures. So I’d like to make you an offer. We’re both going to be speaking at the upcoming Libertarian convention ... [and] it’s perfect neutral territory for you and me to have a debate where you can defend your record for your wavering supporters."

The pair did not ultimately agree to debate, however, and instead delivered separate speeches. Kennedy, during his address, reiterated his criticisms of Trump’s COVID-19 policies.

“I think [Trump] had the right instinct when he came into office. He was initially very reluctant to impose lockdowns… He caved in,” Kennedy said. “It all started with the social media and the mainstream media apparently without any government prompting began censoring any speech that departed from the government’s orthodoxies.”

“The moment the White House officials satisfied themselves that the American people would accept censorship… they took hammer and tongs… to the Constitution,” he went on, before contending that Trump had allowed health regulators to impose “[s]cience-free social distancing.”

“President Trump said that he was gonna run America like a business. And he came in and he gave the keys to all the businesses to a 50-year bureaucrat who’d never been elected to anything and had no accountability,” he added, in apparent reference to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

“President Trump presided over the greatest restriction on individual liberties this country has ever known,” he insisted.

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on X.

Unlock unlimited access

  • No Ads Within Stories
  • No Autoplay Videos
  • VIP access to exclusive Just the News newsmaker events hosted by John Solomon and his team.
  • Support the investigative reporting and honest news presentation you've come to enjoy from Just the News.
  • Just the News Spotlight

    Support Just the News