Libertarians and MAGA supporters clash ahead of Trump speech


Tensions rose at the Libertarian National Convention on Saturday as delegates filed into a ballroom at a hotel in Washington to hear former President Donald Trump speak.

The delegates, who were told they would have priority seating at the speech, entered the ballroom to find it nearly full.

Eric Bowling, a delegate from Virginia,  who were conducting convention business in another chamber, ended their official proceedings early to make sure they had seating.

Libertarian National Committee Chairwoman Angela McArdle, who was reelected to her position Saturday, asked the front rows, which held multiple supporters of Trump, to leave their seats to make room for the Libertarian delegates.

“What’s happening right now is not fun,” McArdle said before asking the first four rows to leave their seats. “Those of you who are Donald Trump supporters: I think what I would like to see tonight is for us to all get along and come to an understanding and find areas of agreement even if we don’t agree to vote for the same person.”

Kelsey Lyon, the communications director for Libertarian presidential candidate Chase Oliver, there was no reason that the party’s delegates should not be front and center.

“I mean, there are Trump supporters right in the front row over there, and we were told that we would have priority seating as delegates,” Lyon said.

“As someone who’s been in the Libertarian Party a long time, we fight Joe Biden and Trump on a lot of these issues, right, and we have our own presidential candidate,” Lyon continued. “I don’t want the optics to be we have a room full of MAGA hats, and a room full of people who are supporting him. And when that’s not the case, like, we oppose Trump. I can’t tell you how many times in the meetings between yesterday and today people were angry that Trump is even here.”

Oliver and Lyon were among the members who were not able to find seating upon entering the ballroom.

Travis Lerol, a delegate from Maryland and the state Libertarian treasurer, was seated in the back row of the room.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of upset, and people are feeling like they were robbed of their seats,” he said. “I definitely did not expect to be in the back corner despite getting here early.”

Anger rose again when Michael Rectenwald, another presidential candidate, took the stage. He was met with boos from Trump supporters multiple times as he spoke, including after he said that the former president had a lot to learn.

“We have a lot to teach Donald Trump,” Rectenwald said. “We don’t know if he has any capacity to learn.”

The room soon devolved into a shouting match between Trump supporters and Libertarian Party members.

“This isn’t your convention,” one Libertarian shouted in between chants of “Trump.”

“Trump did nothing to drain the swamp,” another Libertarian yelled.

A protest effort against Trump was stymied after rubber chickens, brought by a super PAC supporting independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., that some members were attempting to bring in were confiscated by the Secret Service, according to Libertarian communications director Brian McWilliams.


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