May 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump promises Libertarian in his cabinet if party backs him

Libertarian National Convention attendees hold "Free Ross" signs

Members of the Libertarian Party demand the release of Ross Ulbricht, the founder of the darknet site Silk Road, during the party's national convention on May 25, 2024 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former President Trump, speaking at the Libertarian National Convention on Saturday, committed to putting a Libertarian in his cabinet and Libertarians in senior posts if the party backed him as its nominee.

  • The crowd responded with overwhelming boos, to which the former president responded: "Only do that, if you want to win."

Why it matters: While the move to feature Trump at the convention has befuddled prominent Libertarians, for Trump it was a chance to lure voters into supporting him instead of the Libertarian presidential nominee or independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Zoom in: "Keep getting your 3% every four years," Trump said when the crowd booed.

  • Moments earlier, he had called himself a Libertarian and said he would be a "true friend to Libertarians in the White House." Those remarks drew mixed responses from the crowd.
  • What earned Trump the loudest cheers and applause, however, was his promise to commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht, the operator of an unlawful web marketplace dubbed Silk Road.
  • The former president also promised to free WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Jan. 6 Capitol rioters.

The big picture: The convention, with the theme "Become Ungovernable," began as Trump faces the prospect of a felony conviction in connection with a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

  • Trump claimed — as he's done repeatedly — that he has been unfairly targeted with gag orders.

What they're saying: David Boaz, a distinguished senior fellow of the Libertarian think tank Cato Institute, criticized the decision to have Trump speak at the national convention.

  • "The Libertarian Party is a political party. Not a very successful one, but it is a party organized to run candidates and win elections," Boaz said on Thursday, per NBC-affiliated WJAR.
  • "And no political party's nominating convention has invited a leading candidate from another party to be the most prominent speaker at their convention."
  • It was a point Trump also highlighted in his speech.

Angela McArdle, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, said in a news release announcing Trump's speech: "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," she added.

Go deeper: RFK Jr. challenges Trump to a debate at Libertarian convention

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