Libertarians and MAGA Supporters Clash Before Trump Speech: ‘Not Your Convention’


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

The delegates, promised priority seating, entered only to find the ballroom nearly full.

Eric Bowling, a delegate from Virginia, shared that delegates, busy with convention proceedings in another room, adjourned early to secure their seats.

Libertarian National Committee Chairwoman Angela McArdle, who was re-elected that day, asked Trump supporters in the front rows to vacate their seats for the Libertarian delegates.

“What’s happening right now is not fun,” McArdle stated before making her request. “Those of you who support Donald Trump: I think what I would like to see tonight is for us all to get along and come to an understanding, finding common ground even if we don’t support the same candidate.”

Kelsey Lyon, communications director for Libertarian presidential candidate Chase Oliver, argued that the delegates should have the best seats.

“There are Trump supporters up front, and we were assured priority seating as delegates,” Lyon said. “As a longtime member of the Libertarian Party, we frequently oppose Joe Biden and Trump on many issues and have our own candidate. I don’t want it to appear as though we all support Trump, which isn’t true. Many among us are upset Trump is even here.”

Oliver and Lyon were among those unable to find seats upon entering the ballroom.

Travis Lerol, a Maryland delegate and the state’s Libertarian treasurer, ended up seated in the back row.

“There’s a lot of displeasure, and people feel cheated out of their seats,” he said. “Despite arriving early, I didn’t expect to be in the back corner.”

Further tension emerged when presidential candidate Michael Rectenwald took the stage, receiving boos from Trump supporters, especially after suggesting the former president had much to learn.

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

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

“This isn’t your convention,” one Libertarian yelled amid chants of “Trump.”

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

Efforts to protest Trump were thwarted after rubber chickens, brought by a super PAC supporting independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr., were confiscated by the Secret Service. Delegates had intended to use them in the convention, according to Libertarian communications director Brian McWilliams.

The rubber chickens, which squeaked when compressed, had “debate Bobby” written on them. Kennedy has been challenging Trump to a debate.

Hailey Bullis
Hailey Bullis
Hailey Bullis is an associate editor. Previously, she worked as a stringer for the Free Lance-Star and Fairfax County Times, where she covered local news and events. She graduated from George Mason University and is from Stafford, Virginia.

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