Trump met with boos asking Libertarians for nomination, votes at chaotic convention

Trump met with boos asking Libertarians for nomination, votes at chaotic convention

"We should win together," Trump said, to the booing crowd.

ByMaryAlice Parks, Soo Rin Kim, Isabella Murray, Joe LoCascio, and Caleigh Bartash

May 26, 2024, 12:03 AM

    Former President Donald Trump made a heavy-handed appeal to Libertarian members at their party's frenzied nominating convention on Saturday in Washington, D.C., telling the hostile voting bloc that he would support a number of their key issues and put a Libertarian in his cabinet and more in senior posts.

    "I think you should nominate me or at least vote for me, and we should win together," Trump said to the booing crowd.

    PHOTO: US-POLITICS-TRUMP

    Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, DC, May 25, 2024. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

    But he didn't stop making direct, sometimes forceful appeals: "I'm asking for the Libertarian party's endorsement or at least, lots of your votes, lots and lots of libertarian votes."

    The speech was around 30 minutes of chaos – nonstop warring booing, cheering and jeering from the crowd and Libertarian members getting tackled to the ground and physically kicked out by law enforcement.

    Trump carried out his speech without much interruption but was visibly on edge – standing just rows away from the Libertarian members who openly opposed him, closer than the usual distance he maintains from the crowd at his usual campaign rallies.

    MORE: Trump, RFK Jr. in split-screen showdown at Libertarian National Convention

    The crowd was a mix of non-Libertarian Party members supporting Trump and Libertarian Party members, several of whom had told ABC News ahead of Trump's speech that they were there to express their dissatisfaction with Trump.

    PHOTO: US-POLITICS-TRUMP

    People hold up signs reading "Free Ross" as former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to address the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, DC, May 25, 2024. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the online marketplace Silk Road for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

    Acknowledging that he was speaking to an unfriendly crowd, Trump kicked off his speech by answering the question of why he was there – quipping that he is "sure as hell" a Libertarian now that he's been indicted by the government multiple times.

    "In the last year, I've been indicted by the government for 91 different things, so if I wasn't a libertarian before, I sure as hell am a libertarian now," Trump said, joking about various court battles he faces, in all of which he denies wrongdoing.

    At one point, Trump seemed to mock the Libertarians who were booing him as he was attempting to pitch himself as their nominee.

    "The Libertarian Party should nominate Trump for President of the United States," Trump said, quoting an editorial published by a Libertarian writer in recent days. The remark was followed by loud booing from the crowd.

    "Only if you want to win – only if you want to win, maybe you don't want to win," Trump said. "Maybe you don't want to win. Keep getting your 3% every four years."

    "Now you want to make yourself winners. It's time to be winners. You have a lot of common sense," Trump said, telling Libertarian voters to not "waste" their votes.

    Trump also distinguished himself from President Joe Biden, who was invited to attend the Libertarian convention, but was not speaking at the event: "Why isn't Joe Biden here speaking to you tonight? You know why? Why isn't he– because he can't put two sentences together."

    MORE: Could RFK Jr., Libertarian Party team up? How it could be a game-changer for him

    Courting Libertarian voters, Trump expanded on a number of things he's done or would do on key Libertarian issues: Anti-war policies, cryptocurrency, First and Second Amendment rights and the demolition of federal agencies, among other things.

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    Trump announced during his remarks that he will commute the prison sentence of Ross Ulbricht, who is serving a life sentence for his role in creating the Silk Road, an anonymous e-commerce website that was known for its sale of illegal substances, especially marijuana.

    The freedom of political prisoners -- especially Ulbricht -- is the number one issue for Libertarians, according to a straw poll conducted earlier on Saturday. "Free Ross" signs were plastered all over the convention spaces and pins were displayed on nearly every attendee.

    PHOTO: US-POLITICS-TRUMP

    People hold up signs reading "Free Ross" as former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to address the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, DC, May 25, 2024. Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the online marketplace Silk Road for the sale of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other illegal drugs, was sentenced to life in prison in 2015. (Photo by Jim WATSON / AFP) (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

    "And if you vote for me on day one, I will commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht, he's already served 11 years ... We're gonna get him home," Trump said to the crowd.

    Notably, some of his campaign stump speech that is usually received with loud cheering was followed by loud booing from the crowd – including his promise to end the border crisis and his anti-transgender rhetoric.

    After Trump's remarks, senior campaign official Jason Miller downplayed the hostile atmosphere from Libertarian party members throughout his speech, saying policies Trump laid out were "all home runs" and that he had "some big applause lines."

    MORE: RFK Jr.'s 'clever move' to help earn ballot access nationwide: Allying with little-known parties

    "We're at another party's convention … Can you imagine Joe Biden at the Green Party Convention?" Miller asked, claiming that tonight was a sign that the former president would unite the country.

    But many of the Libertarian Party members in the ballroom that ABC News spoke with said otherwise.

    "I despise him. He's an authoritarian. He does not support libertarian ideals," Bietro Geraci, a delegate from New York said.

    "There are always members who will make a poor decision and vote for Trump in my opinion, but he certainly will not gain by vote without question," said Kentucky delegate Don Stacy.

    Following his remarks, three leading Libertarian candidates -- Michael Rectenwald, Josh Smith and Chase Oliver -- got on stage to decry Trump's appearance, remarking that the former president did not reflect the views of their party.

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