Former Republican President, and presumptive GOP nominee, Donald Trump will speak at the Libertarian Party presidential nominating convention later this month.

Trump will address the top 10 concerns of Libertarian national delegates who may ask him to defend past policy decisions and explain how a second Trump administration would align with Libertarian principles of limited government, free markets and non-aggression in foreign policy and personal interactions.

“Libertarians are some of the most independent and thoughtful thinkers in our Country, and I am honored to join them in Washington, D.C., later this month,” Trump said in a statement released Wednesday by the Libertarian Party. “We all have to remember that our goal is to defeat the Worst President in the History of the United States, BY FAR, Crooked Joe Biden. If Libertarians join me and the Republican Party, where we have many Libertarian views, the election won’t even be close. We cannot have another four years of death, destruction, and incompetence. WE WILL WORK TOGETHER AND WIN!”

Libertarian National Committee chair Angela McArdle told the Deseret News the event will attract unprecedented levels of media coverage to the Libertarian Party and will give Libertarians an opportunity to influence the Republican Party standard-bearer.

“For 50 years we’ve been trying to get our candidates on the main stage with major party POTUS candidates and it’s never happened. ... And so we finally succeeded in bringing one of the major candidates to our stage,” McArdle said. “This is a huge opportunity for us. ... There’s no downside.”

But many within the party fear the decision to associate libertarianism with a political figure who does not espouse its principles will taint public perception of libertarian policies and will serve only to help Trump remove an electoral obstacle.

Is Donald Trump libertarian?

“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Barry Short, chair of the Utah Libertarian Party, in an interview with the Deseret News. “There’s nothing in his track record that’s appealing to Libertarians.”

Short pointed to the former president’s response to COVID-19 — allowing lockdowns, elevating Anthony Fauci and encouraging mass vaccination — as well as his proclivity for spending — increasing deficit spending by trillions while in office — as evidence that Trump has nothing to offer Libertarians.

A Trump keynote speech is “totally a money move,” according to Short. Since the Libertarian Party’s national leadership was replaced by members of the controversial Mises Caucus in 2022, the party has faced historic fundraising shortfalls, Short said. Bringing Trump on stage — even if that means platforming an opposing party — could mean an influx of attention for an organization that has historically existed on the fringe of American politics.

“This reeks of desperation to me,” Short said.

Desperate though it may be, Short said it could have a long-lasting effect on the “future direction of the party.” But that direction could be toward increased irrelevance if Libertarian voters cast their ballot for Trump instead of the Libertarian nominee, or their ideas become conflated with the anti-establishment rhetoric of Trump and other populist candidates like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Is Donald Trump influencing the Libertarian Party?

This is the intended outcome of the planned Trump speech, according to Joshua Eakle, a longtime Libertarian political operative and founder of the Project Liberal PAC. There is evidence Trump blames Libertarians for his 2020 loss in key swing states, Eakle alleged in a post on X, and since the Mises Caucus takeover, Libertarian Party messaging has become more extreme and friendly toward some Trump talking points.

Asking Trump to headline their presidential nomination event, including selling Trump-themed merchandise, further supports the influence of Trump on the Libertarian Party, Eakle said.

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“This speech is engineered to pull Libertarian Party support from their own party and and get them to support the opposition,” Eakle said. “The Libertarian Party will effectively be over at that point in the minds of the public. It will be an extension of MAGA authoritarianism. I don’t see any upside to this at all — I see the upside for Trump. But I don’t see the upside for the Libertarian Party.”

Brian Doherty, senior editor at the libertarian Reason magazine, said the quote Trump gave to the Libertarian Party “explicitly states that Trump’s goal in being there is to ... win votes for himself. So that kind of speaks for itself.”

Doherty’s colleague at Reason, Liz Wolfe, said even if the speech does attract media attention to Libertarians, that won’t necessarily be a good thing.

“I think what will happen is the word ‘libertarian’ will increasingly be associated with RFK Jr. and Donald Trump. And these are two celebrity politicians who, as far as I understand it, do not really stand for libertarian values,” Wolfe said.

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McArdle, who was elected to chair the national party as part of the Mises-Caucus wave in 2022, pushed back, saying Trump’s appearance will not serve as a “typical stump speech.”

“We need to be moving the Overton window in the direction of liberty. We need to be exposing people to the ideas of libertarianism, that is why the party was founded. And if we have the opportunity to influence a potential future president we’re gonna do it,” McArdle said.

President Joe Biden was also invited to speak at the party’s national convention but has not agreed to do so.

At the Libertarian national convention, delegates from across the country, including 14 from Utah, will select a presidential nominee from a crowded field of over 30 candidates.

Trump will not participate in the debate — “There’s no talk about him becoming our nominee,” McArdle said. Instead, he will take the stage immediately after Libertarian Party hopefuls argue over which is the most viable candidate to bring libertarian ideas to the White House.