Michigan Rep. Justin Amash defended his potential presidential run as a Libertarian on Sunday, saying it’s unclear how a third party candidate “changes a race.”
Amash, a Republican-turned independent, told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that “there are too many calculations involved” to figure out how much of an impact his own potential candidacy could have on the race between President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
“We don’t know how the additional candidate changes a race. It’s too impossible to figure out,” he said. “So, the most important thing is that we have a ballot. If you want to vote for someone, you vote for that person.”
Last week, Amash announced that he is launching an exploratory committee for a long-shot presidential bid as a Libertarian, a move that came after more than a year of deliberation. While it is very unlikely a third-party candidate could win the presidency, a high-profile third-party contender has the potential to reshape the race, as was the case in 2016 when Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson was on the ballot in every state and won a little over 3% of the national vote.
Amash, a vocal Trump critic, said on “State of the Union” that he hopes to “get the message out there about what’s wrong in Washington” and represent Americans who want more bipartisanship in politics.
“I think we’re at a crossroads. There is a difference over the last decade or so, where people are more polarized, more upset, but, actually, most Americans are delightful people, are polite people, want to work with each other, respect each other. And these two factions that really control our political system are destroying our system and making it impossible for the rest of us to, frankly, enjoy our lives,” he said. “So, I want to go there and represent these millions of people.”
Amash, who was first elected to represent Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District in the 2010 tea party wave, is a traditional libertarian who has stood out from many of his House Republican colleagues, including by opposing expansive federal surveillance powers and American intervention abroad.
Over the years, he has been consistently willing to take controversial votes according to his view of limited government, often being one of the only House members to vote against legislation with broad bipartisan support, such as an anti-lynching bill in February.
CNN’s Haley Byrd contributed to this report.