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Justin Amash, on Running for President as a Libertarian in 2020: 'I'd Never Rule Anything Out'

The libertarian Republican tells CNN's Jake Tapper "it is important that we have someone in there who is presenting a vision for America that is different from what these two parties are presenting."

||| CNNCNNThis past week, the self-described libertarian Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) was showered with mainstream media kudos after his non-clownish questioning of Michael Cohen and his vocal opposition to President Donald Trump's emergency declaration along the southern border. The attention culminated with an appearance today on CNN's State of the Union, during which host Jake Tapper asked Amash, "Would you be willing to run for the White House as the Libertarian nominee in 2020?"

Amash replied: "Well, I'd never rule anything out," though "that's not on my radar right now. I think that it is important that we have someone in there who is presenting a vision for America that is different from what these two parties are presenting."

At Students for Liberty's LibertyCon in Washington, D.C., six weeks ago, Amash told Reason Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward that the ideal third-party candidate "wears Air Jordans" (he was wearing Air Jordans at the time). While also declining to state his 2020 intentions, the congressmen then went on the sketch out specifically what an L.P. nominee should look like.

"The ideal candidate has to be very libertarian, because if you're running in the Libertarian Party, you better be a libertarian," he said. "But it has to be a person who is persuasive to other people, can bring Republicans and Democrats on board, or bring a large part of the electorate on board, because you can't just appeal to diehard libertarians and win the election….I think that too often the party has made concessions to have more sort of squishy Republican candidates run as the Libertarian Party candidate."

The latter comment was widely seen as a dig against Bill Weld, who at the time looked like the highest-profile Libertarian contender in the race, but has since launched an exploratory GOP primary challenge against Trump. The highest-profile declared candidates for the L.P. presidential nomination—which will be determined at the Libertarian Party National Convention in May 2020—are activist Adam Kokesh, controversialist Arvin Vohra, and man-of-mystery John McAfee.

In his CNN interview, Amash struck a note of national conciliation amid constant political warfare.

"Right now we have a wild amount of partisan rhetoric on both sides," he said. "And Congress is totally broken; we can't debate things in a clear way anymore. Everything has become 'Do you like Presisdent Trump?' Or, 'Do you not like President Trump?' And I think that we need to return to basic American principles, talk about what we have in common as a people—because I believe we have a lot in common as Americans—and try to move forward together, rather than fighting each other all the time."

Noted Tapper: "Sounds like a platform." (You can watch the whole interview at this link.)

In July 2017, Amash told me that he preferred the descriptor "libertarian" to "libertarian-leaning Republican," and said that "hopefully, over time, these two parties start to fall apart." Watch below:

Photo Credit: CNN

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  • Rich||

    "it is important that we have someone in there who is presenting a vision for America that is different from what these two parties are presenting."

    John McAfee, DUH!

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    That is a good point.

    What is Justin Amash's position on whale fucking?

  • Tu­lpa||

    Or importing child rapists, like you want to do.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

  • Tu­lpa||

    Yes, we can see you want to import child rapists.

    "chemjeff radical individualist|3.3.19 @ 3:26PM|#

    Well I'm done with the copy-paste war with Tulpa."

    Well yeah, you lost, of course you're done.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Here is your chance, Tulpa.

    http://reason.com/blog/2019/03.....nt_7699009

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    That's a bit of a reduction of what he's saying there. He's trying to make a comment on what Asylum as a immigration status represents.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    Tulpa's never been known for subtlety or understanding much of anything involving language.

  • Tu­lpa||

    And jeff is known for wanting to import child rapists.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

  • Tu­lpa||

    By saying he wants to import child rapists.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

  • Tu­lpa||

    Hey don't you have some child rapists to import?

  • Entelechy||

    "What is Justin Amash's position on whale fucking?'

    Same as the Authoritarian candidate, Captain Ahab.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Bill Weld is already filling that role.

    Weld 2020!

  • Cthulunotmyfriend||

    Yes, John MacAfee is a true libertarian, but he is a crazy motherf#$ker. Genius, but still...

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    But it has to be a person who is persuasive to other people, can bring Republicans and Democrats on board, or bring a large part of the electorate on board, because you can't just appeal to diehard libertarians and win the election….

    If you're seen as someone who will draw votes away from a certain one of the main two parties, you will get pretty good representation in the press. Stealing from the other party and you're Howard Schultz and no message gets through.

    I would like Amash's message of inclusiveness and common ground if by the language he uses he wasn't consistently picking needless fights with the White House. That would be a good place to start if he's to have any hope of helping steer the country in his direction in the interim before 2020. (See Rand Paul.)

  • Jerry B.||

    "If you're seen as someone who will draw votes away from a certain one of the main two parties, you will get pretty good representation in the press."

    And if you might draw from a certain other party, you get "Where's Aleppo?"

  • Jerryskids||

    Can we finally just admit there's really only one party in Washington, that they all love Big Brother Government, they just disagree on what it should be forcing its victims to do?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Yeah pretty much.

  • Tu­lpa||

    Hey don't you have some child rapists to import?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    So, figure I'll ask here again. Does anyone know any political writer who has seriously analyzed getting rid of Washington DC entirely? That is, no more centralized location where politicians meet and live a large portion of the year. I'm not sure it's very necessary these days, and I feel like keeping representatives near their constituency and decentralized has some obvious advantages. I have done nothing more than ponder it randomly though so I'm curious if anyone has done more extensive writing on the idea.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I know, right? We don't need The Glorious Capitol of Panem. Having a decentralized government would be a great idea.

  • Tu­lpa||

    Would they let you import child rapists, as is your wont?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

  • Tu­lpa||

    I don't click on links from people who want to import child rapists.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    I would like very much getting rid of face-to-face government. My legislature would allow every legislator to create a bill, which other legislators could approve at will. If, after 30 days of review, a (super?) majority in every chamber has approved it, it becomes law. Any modification to the bill restarts the review period.

    Get rid of the committees, seniority, all that crap. Of course parties will enforce their own committees, seniority, lists of bills to approve, etc, but it will be right out in the open, not disguised the the greatest debating society in history.

  • Cthulunotmyfriend||

    I can finally see that too, which is why I am not going to get pulled into the whole " don't waste your vote" bullshit. I voted for Hillary, still feel unclean, and am totally disgusted with Trump. Well somewhat disgusted, as I dislike the man much more than I dislike his policies. I would have disliked Hillary's more.

  • SIV||

    "The ideal candidate has to be very libertarian, because if you're running in the Libertarian Party, you better be a libertarian,"


    not since 2004

  • Ray McKigney||

    I think the only qualification is having a pulse.

  • Joe M||

    That's the last time we had a really hardcore, homegrown candidate. And he only won the nom because the top two despised each other so much.

  • Teddy Pump||

    YES!!!...It is called Secession & Dr. Ron Paul wrote about it seriously about 4 years ago!

  • Teddy Pump||

    +1,000

  • Ben_||

    When CNN invites you on to gawk at you like a zoo animal... but you're in love with fame enough to play it up for them.

  • Ordinary Person||

    That's not even close to what happened.

  • Tu­lpa||

    Yeah, they didn't quite gawk. Otherwise spot on.

  • CE||

    What happened was a Republican Congressman vocally opposed the Republican President, so of course the Democrat-leaning media types put him on the air to further embarrass the President -- "see, even the wingnuts aren't all on board with him".

    Then the Democrat-leaning media personality encouraged the libertarian-leaning Republican Congressman to run as a 3rd party candidate, in hopes of stealing votes from the Republican Presidential candidate.

  • kevrob||

    I'd vote for Amash. I'd spoil my ballot before I voted for Trump. This whole "stealing votes" thing reeks of entitlement. It's the Official Party hacks who prevent other parties from getting their candidates ballot-qualified who steal votes. They are like mafia goons who put shops not paying protection out of business, governments that erect unnecessary licensing barriers to stifle competition, or the old newspaper industry trick of sending muscle out to intimidate the newsdealers who carry a rival paper, or the drivers delivering it. What's a modern equivalent - launching a distributed denial of service attack against the paper's online version? Either way, it's the use of force or fraud to distort a market.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    With the Republican Party largely controlled by white nationalists, the goal of all serious libertarians should be to elect Democrats. Therefore the Libertarian Party should do one of the following things:

    (1) Not run anybody for President in 2020.
    (2) Run somebody who's guaranteed to steal more GOP votes than Dem votes (by focusing on "Second Amendment rights" or related nonsense).
    (3) Run somebody who endorses the Democrat before the election, like Weld basically did in 2016.

  • Ray McKigney||

    by focusing on "Second Amendment rights" or related nonsense

    That's good. Like a perfect martini.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I think republicans are pretty grateful that they have the 2nd Amendment to keep the democrats out of the White House forever.

  • IceTrey||

    The focus of the LP and its presidential candidate should be on stopping the government from initiating force because that is the real problem.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If Justin Amash runs on the LP ticket, what will that mean for Bill Weld?

    Won't somebody please think of poor Bill Weld?

    When Bill Weld beats Trump for the Republican nomination, unicorns are gonna shit rainbows for weeks. Do you really want to get in the way of that Mr. Amash?

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I think Bill Weld and Matt Welch should get a room.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I don't want to know

  • Tu­lpa||

    I think importing child rapists is bad. You don't, and want to do so.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

  • Tu­lpa||

    Sorry, you want to import child rapists, no one trusts a link from you.

  • Gaffer Tape||

    Amash is evidence that it's better to be "libertarian" in a major party than a "Libertarian" in a powerless party. We could use more Democrats and Republicans like him, and fewer Libertarian candidates that don't move the needle.

  • IceTrey||

    What has he accomplished with that?

  • Sevo||

    He held up the Kavanaugh confirmation so more baseless accusations could be heard.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    I'm hopeful Tulsi I. Tabard will be nominated and choose Weld as her running mate. Then the ticket could be "T.I.G. Weld 2020" Their slogan could be "Holding America Together!"

  • Sevo||

  • Joe M||

    How sad are you about that typo?

  • CE||

    I was hoping for Rand Paul 2020, a Clear Vision for America or somesuch slogan. But he seems to be on board the Trump Train for another round.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    The rightful President of the United States summarizes the grave situation the Russians put us in.

    Hillary Clinton: 'we are living through a full-fledged crisis in our democracy'

    Full. Fledged. CRISIS.

    #Resist
    #StillWithHer

  • AlmightyJB||

    Well it's nice that she has you to listen to her since literally no one else cares.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    #StillWithHim
    #InternsToo
    $ChildrenToo

    Hillary is a rapist-enabler, rape-apologist, and victim blamer. Go straight to the source will Bill and forget the non-power behind the throne.

  • Rich||

    "This is a time, my friends, when fundamental rights, civic virtue, freedom of the press, the rule of law, truth, facts and reason are under assault," said Clinton

    Hillary, you just keep right on with that "rule of law" rhetoric.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I'll vote for him.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    I would absolutely vote for him.

  • Tu­lpa||

    And then you'd import some child rapists.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

  • Tu­lpa||

    Again, no chance I'm clicking on your link, you want to import child rapists.

  • Kaylee||

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  • DenverJ||

    I think the libertarian party should nominate me. I mean, why not?

  • Tu­lpa||

    Hey, you don't want to import child rapists like chemjeff does.

  • DenverJ||

    Most children are not sexually developed enough, nor strong enough, to be rapists.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

  • Tu­lpa||

    No one is clicking on your links, esprcially since you want to import child rapists.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I am sure that Amash will resign his Republican Congressional seat to run LP for President.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Continuing the long line of Republicans running as Libertarians.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    Resign your seat first, and run in the special election as a Libertarian; then you can run for President as one.

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