Libertarians pick Chase Oliver for US president as Trump, Kennedy rejected

The antiwar activist supports a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, and an end to the US military support for Ukraine and Israel.

The Libertarian Party in the United States has picked a presidential candidate who has expressed support for a ceasefire in Gaza, rejecting the nationally known former President Donald Trump and Robert F Kennedy Jr as its nominee, after they each spoke at the party’s convention.

Chase Oliver garnered about 60 percent of the vote from Libertarian delegates during the final round of voting on Sunday night.

“We did it! I am officially the presidential nominee,” Oliver posted on X after his nomination was approved. “It’s time to unify and move forward for liberty.”

Third parties have rarely been competitive in the US presidential election and the Libertarian candidate four years ago won 1 percent of the vote.

But the party’s decision is getting more attention this year due to the rematch between Trump and Democratic President Joe Biden, which could hinge again on small vote margins in a handful of contested states.

In a speech on Sunday, Oliver, who is an antiwar activist, pledged to support a “ceasefire” as well as the end of “genocide” in Gaza.

Leading up to his nomination, Oliver said he had received the highest amount of campaign donations among all the Libertarian candidates.

On Saturday night, Trump appeared in Washington at the Libertarian convention to give a speech that was repeatedly booed by many in the room. It did not pay off with the endorsement he requested, though his Republican allies praised him for choosing to go before an unfriendly crowd.

Trump’s appearance at the gathering, unusual for a Republican candidate, also signalled how seriously he and his campaign take the threat of third-party candidate Kennedy, who has long opposed vaccines and mandates.

Kennedy was quickly eliminated from the party’s presidential nomination on Sunday. Still, he got a friendlier reception when he spoke on Friday and attacked both Trump and Biden for how they addressed the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kennedy had talked up his support for the Libertarians and an endorsement could have helped him expedite the process of gaining ballot access in all 50 states, perhaps the biggest hurdle he faces in qualifying for the first presidential debate in June hosted by CNN.

Libertarians prioritise small government and individual freedoms, with a mix of policy positions that could be seen as liberal, conservative or neither.

Oliver is an activist and openly gay politician from Atlanta who previously ran for the US Senate and US House from Georgia.

During his Senate campaign in Georgia, he ended up gaining enough votes to deny the two highest vote-getters an outright majority of 50 percent plus one, thus forcing a run-off that was later won by a Democrat. This year, he could again act as a spoiler in the presidential race.

Oliver’s campaign website calls for major cuts to the federal budget with an eye towards balancing it, the abolition of the death penalty, and the closure of all overseas military bases and ending of military support to Israel and Ukraine.

He also promised to appeal to the 41 million young Americans, adding that voters are “fed up by the status quo and negativity” in the Democratic and Republican parties.

Oliver will be joined on the ticket by vice presidential candidate Mike ter Maat, according to The Hill, a US news publication.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies