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Libertarians choose Chase Oliver as presidential nominee, rejecting Trump, RFK Jr.

The Libertarian Party on Sunday chose party activist Chase Oliver as its presidential nominee, rejecting both former President Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. after each spoke at the party's convention over the weekend.

Third parties have rarely been competitive in U.S. presidential elections and the Libertarian candidate four years ago won 1% of the vote. But the party's decision is attracting more attention this year because of the rematch between Trump and President Joe Biden, which could hinge again on small vote margins in a handful of contested states.

"We did it! I am officially the presidential nominee," Oliver celebrated in a post Sunday on X, formerly Twitter. "It's time to unify and move forward for liberty."

Trump spoke at the Libertarian convention Saturday night in Washington and was repeatedly booed by many in the room. The speech didn't pay off with the endorsement he'd requested, though Republican allies praised him for choosing to appear before an unfriendly crowd.

Kennedy received a friendlier reception when he spoke on Friday and attacked both Trump and Mr. Biden over their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. He 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. 

Libertarian Party Chair Angela McArdle confirmed Kennedy had fulfilled the requirements to be the party's nominee. "Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has sought the nomination here," she told reporters. However, he was only able to muster the support of nine of the delegates, which was only 2% of the vote, and was eliminated in the first round of voting.

Trump claimed that he didn't seek the Libertarian nomination because he wasn't allowed to do so.

"The reason I didn't file paperwork for the Libertarian Nomination, which I would have absolutely gotten if I wanted it (as everyone could tell by the enthusiasm of the Crowd last night!), was the fact that, as the Republican Nominee, I am not allowed to have the Nomination of another Party," he said in a post on social media.

Libertarians prioritize small government and individual freedoms, with a mix of policy positions that fall on different parts of the political spectrum — liberal, conservative or neither.

Oliver is an activist from Atlanta who previously ran for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House from Georgia. On his campaign website, he calls for major cuts to the federal budget with a view toward balancing the budget, abolishing the death penalty, closing all overseas military bases and ending military support to Israel and Ukraine.

Allison Novelo contributed to this report.

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