CNN Anchor Jake Tapper pressed independent Michigan Rep. Justin Amash on his decision to seek the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination.
Amash made an appearance on Sunday morning’s “State of the Union” to address the issue, and despite pushback from Tapper, claimed that he could win the 2020 general election. (RELATED: ‘Just Calm Down’: Nancy Pelosi Fires Back After Jake Tapper Suggests She Made ‘A Tactical Mistake’)
Tapper started right in with a quote from former Republican Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh, who argued that Amash would simply play the spoiler — and likely for former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Let’s talk about the race. Former congressman and presidential candidate Joe Walsh wrote, quote, ‘Amash can’t win but he can siphon enough votes from Democratic nominee Joe Biden to hand the election to Trump. If Amash gets the Libertarian nomination and stays until the end, he could wind up going in the books as the guy who voted to impeach the president one year and got him into office the next year.’ What do you say to people who say you will probably play a spoiler role especially in your state of Michigan?”
Amash argued that the calculus was too complicated for anyone to really predict how an additional candidate could impact the race. “It’s too impossible to figure out. There are too many calculations involved,” he said.
“You say that because —” Tapper began, but Amash interrupted: “I’m going to win this election. We need to win the election for the American people.”
Tapper tried a different tack, saying, “You say that the people are dissatisfied with both parties. But I took a dive into some numbers. Just over 10% of voters have an unfavorable view of both President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in a poll that CNN did in March. It doesn’t sound like there are a vast array of voters dissatisfied with both presidential choices.”
Amash responded by claiming that most of the country was actually independent and looking for another choice. “They might prefer one candidate or the other, if you have a two-candidate field. If you make it a three-candidate field and you have a compelling candidate, they’re delighted to go to that candidate,” he insisted.
“No third-party candidate in the modern two-party system has ever won the presidency,” Tapper pressed again. “That includes an incredibly popular former president, Teddy Roosevelt. What makes you different?”
Amash explained that the polarization was rooted in the two major parties, not the people, and argued that left an opening for the Libertarian Party to make a move that might be successful now in a way that it would not have been several decades ago.
“I think we’re at a crossroads,” he said. “We have a lot of uncertainty now. There’s an opening for a Libertarian Party to become a major party in this country.”