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Austin Petersen “optimistic” about Trump, may run for Senate as a Republican

Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen, left, poses for a photo with a supporter at the National Libertarian Party Convention, Friday, May 27, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen, left, poses for a photo with a supporter at the National Libertarian Party Convention, Friday, May 27, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

In an interview with Red Alert Politics at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday, a former presidential candidate says he is considering running again in 2020.

Austin Petersen, formerly a runner-up to Gary Johnson in the Libertarian presidential primary, says he is willing to run again in 2020 “if my country really needed me,” but not after weighing all options first. One of the “short-term” options includes challenging Claire McCaskill (D-MO) for U.S. Senate in his home state of Missouri in 2018.

“What my goal and my purpose is during these years right now, with what seems to be all these factions forming within the conservative movement and the Republican party, is to try and steer it towards the ideas that I care about: free markets, limited government, getting the government out of our personal lives, our fiscal lives. And that’s what makes me a libertarian,” Petersen says. 

Running for president in 2016 was not easy.

Petersen describes the modest lifestyle associated with “running a national campaign on $120,000,” a campaign which caused him significant stress and aging.

Nonetheless, he won’t rule out the idea of running as a Republican. Although he can better spread the message of liberty on a Libertarian party platform, he thinks running as a Republican is more likely to get him to win.

“I think I would have a chance at winning as a Republican, but I think I would have a better chance to spread the message, maybe, as a Libertarian,” he says. “So I haven’t decided what I’m gonna do yet, but the Republicans really seem to like me.”

Back in August, Petersen was sure Donald Trump would lose the general election to Hillary Clinton.

Now, the 36-year-old entrepreneur expresses optimism for the direction of the country under President Trump, a man he considers anti-establishment like himself.

“I hope that Donald Trump actually makes it easier for people like myself,” he says. “He was an outsider, I’m definitely an outsider. I hope that Donald Trump now makes it easier for outsiders like myself to actually have a career and to be able to advance our ideas even if they don’t go along with the mainstream beliefs.”

Despite expressing concerns over Trump’s plans to raise tariffs, border walls, and his shaky relationship with China, Petersen is ready for a change from the usual way Republicans handle issues such as foreign policy.

“I do like that he’s willing to talk to Russia, although there’s a little bit of scandal in the elections and kind of like that,” he says. “But there’s a lot to be optimistic for with the Trump presidency. There’s a lot to be worried about, but it’s nice to have change.”


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