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

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and independent candidate Robert F. A split-screen showdown between Kennedy Jr. and Kennedy Jr. will occur this weekend at the Libertarian National Convention in Washington, DC, with each hopeful seeking to court the party’s base.

A face-off between the two candidates is unlikely, however, even though Kennedy has called for a debate between them. Kennedy addressed the convention Friday afternoon — a day before Trump was scheduled to appear Saturday night.

With ballot access in at least 37 states, the Libertarian Party is a nonpartisan political party that has seen many variations since its inception in the 1970s. Its members are often known as socially liberal and fiscally conservative.

The party expects the presidential and vice-presidential candidates to be confirmed on Sunday.

“Libertarians are some of the most independent and thoughtful thinkers in our country…we must all work together to advance freedom and liberty for every American, and the second Trump administration will achieve that goal. I look forward to speaking at The Libertarian. Many of my best friends will be in attendance at this event,” Trump told ABC News. said in a statement.

Both Trump and Kennedy are courting voters wherever they can as Election Day approaches. Polls show Kennedy trailing by just shy of 10% — with Trump slightly ahead of Biden — 41% to 40%, respectively. A national polling average of 538.

The Libertarian Party, which said it had extended speaking invitations to both Trump and Biden, called the former president’s acceptance “significant.”

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“This is an important opportunity for a former president to address our members, candidates and executive directly. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear the insights of a key figure in American politics and see him engage with libertarian principles,” the party said. wrote in a press release.

Kennedy later accepted a speaking slot at the convention and later challenged Trump to a debate there, calling the location of their meeting “the perfect middle ground.”

“You said yourself you wouldn’t be afraid to debate me as long as my vote count was right…so let’s meet in two weeks and show the American people that at least the two major candidates aren’t afraid to debate each other,” Kennedy said. Wrote in X earlier this month.

Trump has not addressed that invitation, but has separately expressed his willingness to share the debate stage with Kennedy if he qualifies for upcoming televised presidential debates scheduled for this summer.

Mark Rutherford, who is running for chairman of the Libertarian Party, said some libertarians objected to Trump and Kennedy coming to their convention because they were not the party’s nominees.

“This is the National Convention for the Freedom Party to nominate our Libertarian Party for President and Vice President. He is the presumptive Republican nominee. It is inappropriate for him to speak here. We should focus on our own candidates.” Rutherford said of Trump.

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He said the same about Kennedy.

“Again, he’s running against our candidates … so it’s not appropriate for them to be here,” Rutherford said.

“[Libertarian Party leadership] They brag about bringing them in. I think it confuses the public and confuses people. Why are they here at our presidential nominating convention?”

Chase Oliver, one of the Libertarian presidential candidates, said it was “disturbing” that Trump and Kennedy attended their convention.

“When they see Donald Trump speaking with a libertarian banner behind them, it’s going to confuse the brand of our average voter … We have to get out of that hole and present a real alternative, which I’m happy to do, but it’s a lot easier if we don’t have them on our platform. ,” Oliver said in an interview with ABC News White House correspondent Maryalice Parks on Friday.

But Rep. Garrett Steele, another Libertarian from Nashville, Tennessee, said he was glad both Trump and Kennedy attended the convention because they “brought attention” to the party and its platform.

Oliver joins Michael Regtenwald, Mike der Mott, Lars Mapstead, Jacob Hornberger, Joshua Smith, Joseph Collins, Charles Balley, Todd, Art Olivier and Jody Jones as party candidates at the convention.

“There’s a lot of people running,” Rutherford said, indicating there isn’t a clear front-runner in the race.

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Kennedy is likely to be nominated by delegates to the Libertarian National Convention when they vote on Sunday.

ABC News’ Oren Oppenheim, Sorin Kim, Lali Ipsa and Kelsey Walsh contributed to this report.

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