The #NeverTrump Reality Check
With her primary election pummeling Tuesday night, Rep. Liz Cheney (R—Wyoming) closed the books on the 10 GOP members of Congress who voted to impeach outgoing President Donald Trump in February 2021: Four pre-emptively announced their retirements, two survived primary challenges, and the final four were scalped by #MAGA.
Yet that grisly record hasn’t dulled speculation about Cheney mounting a Quixotic bid to joust with Trump in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries. “The great and original champion of our party, Abraham Lincoln, was defeated in elections for the Senate and the House before he won the most important election of them all,” Cheney said in her concession speech, employing the subtlety her family is famous for. “Lincoln ultimately prevailed, he saved our union, and he defined our obligated as Americans for all of history… I will do whatever it takes to ensure that Donald Trump is never anywhere near the Oval Office, and I mean it. I love my country more.”
But before #Cheneymentum takes journalistic flight, it’s worth revisiting a history that few noticed even when it was happening. There was indeed a series of primary challenges to Donald Trump in 2019-2020, on grounds of his comportment, his free-spending ways, and his abandonment of anything like traditional conservative principle. And they were squashed like moths on a trucker’s windshield.
Let's recall (as I did in a December 2019 article, as yet unpublished) the doomed primary challenges mounted by the group Trump derisively called “The Three Stooges”—Bill Weld, Joe Walsh, and Mark Sanford. Also pictured is Justin Amash, Jo Jorgensen, and the Libertarian Party. The penultimate paragraph pessimistically predicts that, “The 2020 election may well be the last time we hear the Republican Party even pretend to care about fiscal conservatism.” As long as the GOP continues to be the party of Donald Trump, that dour note will likely sustain. - M.L.W.
Nine Weeks That Bored the World
The doomed 2019-2020 effort to challenge Donald Trump from the libertarian-leaning right.
September 24, 2019 was a big night for Republican politics in New York. Around 40 mostly center-right journalists—an unusually large number for the famously Democratic media capital—were gathered, chattering excitedly over drinks. Primary challengers Bill Weld and Joe Walsh were meeting for the first official GOP presidential debate. Sadly for the would-be vanquishers of Donald Trump, I am describing two separate events.
In fairness, the midtown cocktail party, organized by New York Post columnist Karol Markowicz, had been planned much longer than the hastily thrown-together Trump-roast 70 blocks south at the World Trade Center headquarters of Business Insider. Still, there was something pathetic about seeing just a dozen mostly young reporters munch celery sticks around a table in a fluorescent conference room while staring blankly at a Facebook video feed from one floor below of men vying to become the 46th president of the United States.
“We’re not allowed…at the debate?” an annoying man sitting to my left blurted out to our glum group. “I get it, I get it—security risk, Trump is down there.”
“Trump’s not here,” said the reporter sitting to my right.
“It’s cool,” the noisy one said. “You’ve got three candidates—three solid candidates—”
“Two candidates,” corrected another reporter. Mark Sanford, the former South Carolina congressman and governor who had recently joined the race, was a no-show that night.
Slowly it dawned on me that my oxygen-gobbling neighbor, who had by far the most elaborate TV production posse in the room, was actually comedian Roy Wood, Jr., a correspondent for The Daily Show. I tried in vain to stay out of his camera shot. As Wood put it, accurately, in his ensuing piss-take of a report, “So we watched this historical debate on Facebook Live with about 900 other people in the entire country.”
In retrospect, that may have been the high-water mark for the 2020 Republican presidential primary.
As of December 2019, Donald Trump has presided over a 12 percent growth in federal spending, a 50 percent hike in the annual budget deficit, and a controversy-courting disregard for institutional restraints on executive power. All while pursuing economic policy from a Mercantilist baseline that “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.”
So it should come as no surprise that the internal challenge to Trump’s supremacy within the Republican Party would come from its more libertarian rump, such as it still exists. Former Massachusetts governor and 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Bill Weld switched back to the GOP in mid-January of 2019 (three months after he had published an essay in Reason magazine arguing that libertarians should abandon the Republican Party); then formed an exploratory committee in mid-February, and in mid-April formally announced his then-lonely longshot bid.
“The president hasn't vetoed a single dime of spending at the national level,” Weld complained to me days later, with characteristic granularity. “In fact, this last budget, admittedly a multi-year budget, added another 7.9 trillion dollars to the accumulated deficit. He's not getting the job done for millennials and Gen Xers, who are going to have to pay that bill. If he doesn't do something, they're not going to get Social Security.”
Weld’s 2016 ticket-topper, Gary Johnson, had made a similar if more pungent pitch central to his 2018 Libertarian campaign for U.S. Senate in New Mexico. “In five years,” Johnson told me just days before that election, “we could well be spending one trillion dollars a year, interest-only on the debt. Young people are getting fucked.” The popular former two-term governor went on to win just 15 percent of the vote in his home state, half the amount of his unknown Republican opponent, and 40 percentage points behind the incumbent Democrat.
At a time of bipartisan chops-licking at the prospect of more deficit spending—Democrats and Republicans in mid-December agreed to a $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act with minimal public controversy, then followed that up with a $1.4 trillion omnibus package lawmakers had 24 hours to read—fiscal hawks in the 2020 cycle are about as fashionable as leisure suits. Enter Joe Walsh.
Walsh, a one-term Tea Party congressman-turned radio host, announced his presidential candidacy on Aug. 25, stressing not issues but character. “We’ve got a guy in the White House who is unfit,” he pronounced during his coming-out party on ABC’s This Week. “Completely unfit to be president.”
“Look, I care about the debt as much as Sanford does,” Walsh told me a month later. “That's why I went to Washington. I'm pretty close to you in that I'm a real libertarian, limited-government conservative, so Trump's issues piss me off—the tariffs are horrible, the debt sucks. There's a lot of things he's doing that I don't like.”
“I just don't think,” he continued, “[that] you…do what I'm doing, giving up my life— and this is difficult!—if you're upset about an issue, like the debt with Trump….I guess the case I'm trying to make is, if you want conservative shit, and you want conservative policy, you'll get it from me, you just won't get all this hate, all this bigotry, all the danger, all the un-patriotism, all the daily drama that we're getting with Trump.”
The last member of the libertarian-leaning Lilliputians trying to trip up Trump was a man who, like Weld, has been using the L-word to describe his politics since back when he was a Republican governor. Mark Sanford famously resigned from the statehouse in South Carolina in 2011 after lying about a marital affair, and then came back to win a congressional seat in 2013, only to lose in 2018 as an incumbent in a GOP primary due to his outspoken criticism of the president—who had endorsed Sanford’s opponent hours before the primary, only to see her lose in the general election to a Democrat.
In mid-July, Sanford announced he was considering a run, and would take four weeks to mull it over. "I think the Republican Party has lost its way on debt, spending and financial matters," he told the PostandCourier. After what turned out to be seven weeks of hemming and hawing (sample interview quote: "I don't think anybody's going to beat Donald Trump”), Sanford made both his candidacy and his issue-monomania official on Sept. 8.
"I am compelled to enter the Presidential Primary as a Republican for several reasons—the most important of which is to further and foster a national debate on our nation's debt, deficits, and spending," Sanford tweeted just after making his announcement on Fox News. "We, as a country, are more financially vulnerable than we have ever been since our Nation's start and the Civil War. We are on a collision course with financial reality. We need to act now."
Way back in January of 2019, The Bulwark, a never-Trump publication associated with Bill Kristol after his Weekly Standard was shuttered, had published an open letter to the then-vacant field of would-be primary challengers under the inspirational headline, “Unto the Breach.” Author Tim Miller, a former communications director for Jeb Bush, concluded with the purplest of pleas: “So I’m asking you to enter the arena. The time is now. The game is afoot. Follow your spirit, and upon this charge, who knows? Maybe when all is said and done you'll be 46."
In those more innocent times, hopes and dreams to replace the 45th occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. were pinned prematurely on the likes of Jeff Flake, John Kasich, and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. But The Bulwark enthusiasm was undimmed by the replacement team of Messrs. Weld, Wash, and Sanford. “Three Horsemen Are Coming for Trump,” proclaimed the Sept. 10 headline by Executive Editor Jonathan V. Last. “The mere existence of their campaigns means that the Republican primaries are a story, independent of Trump,” Last wrote. “The GOP primary fight is now a story that can run even without Trump’s participation.”
Or not. We’ve had 4.5 years to observe the records both of Trump vs. his critics in the conservative intelligentsia, and also of the dogs of political journalism leaping toward the squirrel of activity in the White House. As the Three Horseman finally ambled into view, the president gave his first and perhaps last blurt of attention toward the ankle-biters, then moved on to the next hour’s story, the media moving right along with him.
“I’m at 94% approval in the Republican Party,” the president (of course) tweeted, “and have Three Stooges running against me.”
Canceling the Competition
Trump was exaggerating his GOP support, but only just. Gallup asks Republicans about the president every couple of weeks, and the numbers have been remarkably stable—between 87 percent and 91 percent approval all throughout 2019.
The first national election poll taken after Sanford entered the race was absolutely brutal for the Stooges: Just 3 percent apiece for Sanford and Weld, and 1 percent for Walsh, versus 76 percent for Trump, according to McLaughlin & Associates. It was also the third-lowest the president would poll nationally in four-way surveys over the next nine weeks. On average, the president walloped his three competitors combined during that span by 76 percentage points.
Other relevant numbers were, if anything, more lopsided. The third quarter for campaign-finance disclosures ended Sept. 30, with results trickling out through mid-October. Weld, who raised money all three months, brought in $457,000. Walsh in his five weeks produced $129,000. Sanford in his three weeks managed $60,000.
Trump? His re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee—which, in an unprecedented step, officially merged in 2018, thus eclipsing whatever “collusion” then-candidate Trump accused Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee of concocting in 2016—combined for a whopping $125.7 million in donations from July to September, or more than twice as much per day as the rest of the field for the whole quarter.
It is hard to imagine less favorable conditions for a primary challenge. And yet the Trump apparatus was not content with racking up the kind of pre-election stats that would make a Castro brother (of the Cuban variety, not Texan) blush: They needed to choke off even the theoretical possibility of competition.
On Sept. 7, after months of open-air arm-twisting from the re-election campaign, the Republican parties of South Carolina, Nevada and Kansas all announced that they wouldn’t be holding primary elections in 2020 after all. These were soon followed by Arizona (Sept. 9), and Alaska (Sept. 21). South Carolina, in addition to being a critical early-primary state (first in the South and third overall; Nevada’s fourth), is Sanford’s home turf. The announcement came hours before he officially entered the race.
The Stooges objected loudly, but it’s not clear many Republicans heard. Friends of Sanford challenged the South Carolina decision in court; the case was still pending at press time. On Sept. 13, Sanford, Walsh and Weld teamed up for a Washington Post op-ed, calling the cancellations a “disgrace,” and even trying to penetrate Trump’s executive time with the taunt that “Cowards run from fights. Warriors stand and fight for what they believe. The United States respects warriors. Only the weak fear competition.”
“Today the Republican Party has taken a wrong turn, led by a serial self-promoter who has abandoned the bedrock principles of the GOP,” the trio wrote. “In the Trump era, personal responsibility, fiscal sanity and rule of law have been overtaken by a preference for alienating our allies while embracing terrorists and dictators, attacking the free press and pitting everyday Americans against one another.”
“Do Republicans really want to be the party with a nominating process that more resembles Russia or China than our American tradition?” they continued. “Under this president, the meaning of truth has been challenged as never before. Under this president, the federal deficit has topped the $1 trillion mark. Do we as Republicans accept all this as inevitable? Are we to leave it to the Democrats to make the case for principles and values that, a few years ago, every Republican would have agreed formed the foundations of our party?”
All of which may be more true than false, but it also sounds a like what you’d hear from a Democrat, as was pointed out by the few conservatives who bothered to acknowledge such squeaks of dissent.
“Do these anti-Trump (and in Mr. Weld’s case, RINO) Republicans really want their epitaphs to read that they were responsible for putting, say, Sens. Bernie Sanders, Vermont independent, or Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, with all that that augurs?” editorialized the Washington Examiner. “Like that tree that fell in the woods, none of them is exactly presidential timber anyway, and when their candidacies fall by the wayside…almost no one will hear, and even fewer will care.”
To the limited extent that Trump supporters actively defended the campaign’s heavy-handed primary-cancelling tactics beyond pointing at the polling scoreboard, it was to assert in passing that, well, Democrats do it, too. But that’s not really true: In 2012, the Democratic parties of New York and Connecticut indeed kiboshed presidential primaries, but only in2012, after no other candidates besides Barack Obama had qualified for the ballot.
Bill Weld could tell you from experience the last time a sitting president was this paranoid and/or completist about quashing potential early-state challenges—it was his then-boss, George H.W. Bush, in 1992. Back then, facing a mild recession and a conservative base snarling over Bush’s broken pledge to not raise income taxes, the 41st president’s re-election team leaned on Iowa to keep challenger Pat Buchanan off the ballot in the state’s famously critical caucuses. The move sparked populist outcry, goosing a Buchanan insurgency in New Hampshire that Weld tried gamely then to counter-act, and desperately now to replicate.
Pitchfork Pat would go on to receive a larger-than-expected 37 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, foreshadowing Bush’s weakness in the general election. It’s a tale Weld delights in telling on the campaign trail, no matter the incongruity of a would-be party standard-bearer exulting in examples where the serious primary challenger hobbles his own party’s incumbent: All four sitting presidents who had to sweat through their own re-nomination ended up not winning re-election. But each of the relevant disruptors—Gene McCarthy in 1968, Ronald Reagan in 1972, Teddy Kennedy in 1980, Buchanan in 1992—burbled up from the disaffected ideological bases of their respective parties. Weld? Er, not so much.
The former Massachusetts governor, who last won an election a quarter-century ago, is a classic Rockefeller Republican—northeastern, liberal, old-money—in an era when that category no longer technically exists. He is pro-choice at a time when you can count congressional Republicans in favor of abortion rights on one hand; pro-amnesty in a GOP headed by an immigration restrictionist, and a proud global elitist (like, member-of-the-Council-on-Foreign-Relations proud) during a worldwide period of retrenching nationalism. He preferred Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump in 2016, Barack Obama to John McCain in 2008, and John Kasich to the rest of the GOP primary field last time around. As the base of his party was rallying around the president in defense of a special counsel investigation headed by Robert Mueller, Weld was impishly reminding all who would listen that the taciturn former FBI director got his start at the Justice Department after being hired by a U.S. attorney named…Bill Weld. (Mueller’s only known campaign contribution to date was a donation to Weld’s failed Senate campaign against John Kerry in 1996.)
Trump hasn’t paid much public attention to Weld, aside from mentioning in his Three Stooges Twitter thread that the former governor was “a man who couldn’t stand up straight while receiving an award.” (In 1996, Weld fainted on stage for 30 seconds, reportedly from stomach flu, while receiving an honorary degree.) But there’s no reason for the president to expend energy when he has a well-funded organization out there sweeping any vaguely threatening legs.
“The Trump campaign has completed an intensive, months-long project working with states to alter delegate rules with the goal of strengthening President Trump's position in the primaries, convention and general election,” CBS News reported Oct. 7. “One Trump campaign official argued the ‘nuanced changes’ the campaign has encouraged — like changing the minimum threshold eligibility for delegates or adding a winner-take-all trigger — is ‘more impactful’ [even] than canceling primaries.”
Have you heard the joke about the three horsemen in an empty bar?
An Audience of One
Mark Sanford was finally ready to take his show on the road. It was an Oct. 16 press conference on the first day of his 3,500-mile, "Kids, We’re Bankrupt and We Didn’t Even Know It” campaign tour, and the candidate was out in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall with a comically large fake check, about four feet long, for $1 trillion—the size of the fiscal 2019 federal debt, rounding up. The only problem with this made-for-TV moment: There was exactly one reporter in attendance.
“When it began,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Anna Orso, “the only others around besides his two aides were a family 30 yards away with a selfie stick and a group of students from Paris.” It was probably not what The New York Times had in mind when the paper predicted in its news pages Sept. 19 that, “Of the three challengers, Mr. Sanford could prove the most formidable when it comes to hectoring Mr. Trump from the right.”
It’s becoming harder to remember now, but there was a time when elected Republicans talked openly of their disdain for the more repellant aspects of Donald Trump’s personality. When audio was leaked in October 2016 of Trump bragging off-camera to Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush in 2005 that “when you’re a star,” you can “do anything” to women you’re attracted to, including “grab[bing] them by the pussy,” nearly a dozen GOP senators took the remarkable step of withdrawing endorsements from their own party’s presidential nominee.
After Trump shocked the world by winning one month later, most elected Republicans either sat on their hands or slowly fell into line. Not Mark Sanford. “I’m a dead man walking,” the then-congressman told journalist Tim Alberta in a long Politico profile that ran in February 2017. “At some level [Trump] represents the antithesis, or the undoing, of everything I thought I knew about politics, preparation and life….Our republic was based on reason. The Founding Fathers were wed to this notion of reason. It was a reason-based system. And if you go to a point wherein it doesn’t matter, I mean, that has huge implications in terms of where we go next as a society.”
As a member of the notoriously prickly House Freedom Caucus, a group of around 30 members who back then held a hard line on federal spending but who now run impeachment interference for the free-spending president, Sanford frequently found himself on the butt end of Trump’s humors. “The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast,” the president warn-tweeted in March 2017, after the group persistently objected to the half-baked GOP congressional plans to modify Obamacare. “We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!”
In fact, Trump did fight Sanford in 2018, and wrestled most of the rest of the Freedom Caucus firmly onto his team. After the dour South Carolinian lost his primary, the president mocked him at a meeting with Republican lawmakers, then (according to several in attendance) lied that they “applauded and laughed loudly” in response. Retorted Sanford’s pal Rep. Justin Amash, then still in both the Freedom Caucus (which he co-founded) and the GOP, “House Republicans had front row seats to @POTUS's dazzling display of pettiness and insecurity. Nobody applauded or laughed. People were disgusted.” According to Tim Alberta’s 2019 book, American Carnage: On the Front Lines of the Republican Civil War and the Rise of President Trump, that exchange was the beginning of the end of Amash’s relationship with his own caucus and political party.
The Michigan congressman, who declared independence from the two-party system on July 4, 2019, seven weeks after having announced support for an impeachment inquiry, has also been the periodic subject of presidential rumors these past few years. If Amash were to compete for the Libertarian nomination—which only gets determined in May 2020 at the party’s national convention—then he would immediately be the favorite. But his competitive ire at the moment is focused on the formidable yet considerably more plausible challenge of winning re-election of a toss-up swing district as an independent.
In the absence of nationally known names, and against a backdrop of unprecedented interest in politics (traditionally deadly for third parties), the L.P. continues to muddle through with a Waiting for Godot nomination contest between candidates most Americans would not be able to pick out in a police lineup (with the possible exception of performance artist Vermin Supreme, who helpfully shows up to most events wearing a giant rubber boot on his head).
At a November 2 Libertarian debate I moderated in Florence, South Carolina, Supreme shared the stage with alt-media anarchist Adam Kokesh, Arizona business owner and L.P. activist Kim Ruff, 1996 Libertarian vice presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen, former Honolulu County Neighborhood Board member Ken Armstrong, and activist Dan Behrman, who has legally changed his middle name to “Taxation is Theft.” The event, in front of around 75 people, was supposed to be video-streamed live, but wasn’t—in fact, technical problems delayed the start time by more than a half-hour, and the video wasn’t available on YouTube for a month.
On substance, the L.P. candidates—including longtime antiwar activist Jacob Hornberger, who announced his bid that weekend—are vying to represent what might be called the Libertarian wing of the Libertarian Party, as opposed to ex-Republicans such as 2016 veep nominee Weld and the entire 2008 ticket of eventual Trump fans Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root.
"We should not allow ourselves to be bullied," Ruff said in Florence. "We should not allow ourselves to be put in a position where we're effectively told that if we don't elect a certain person, or nominate a certain person to represent us, then we're going to have the whole thing fall apart….We should stand up and have a fearless Libertarian as our standard-bearer."
How do you manage a campaign when the world’s not watching, the needle is not moved, the bank account is empty, and the opponent is a guy who doesn’t just rip the scab off political correctness, he plunges a shiv underneath the skin and excavates whole chunks of human flesh? You lunge for any moment that could turn viral.
On Sept. 23, Weld, Walsh, and Sanford appeared on MSNBC’s popular Morning Joe program to talk about their race and also the news of the day, which was President Trump’s erratic, investigation-spawning diplomacy with Ukraine. “Pressuring a foreign country to interfere with and control a U.S. election,” Weld charged, “couldn’t be clearer….That is treason. It’s treason, pure and simple, and the penalty for treason under the U.S. code is death. That’s the only penalty.”
With a knowing wink, the former prosecutor also suggested a compromise: “The penalty under the Constitution is removal from office, and that might look like a pretty good alternative to the president if he could work out a plea deal,” he said.
Walsh, with his experience as a political shock-jock, wore his hyperbole more easily. “He's a king, he's a would-be dictator," he asserted. "This isn't Russia, this isn't China, you can't just cancel elections in the United States of America. But that's what Donald Trump is doing. And make no mistake…this is Donald Trump telling the Republican Party bosses what to do, because the Republican Party bosses, the Republican Party establishment, all they want to do is wash their dictator's feet every doggone day."
The more taciturn Sanford, visibly uncomfortable, kept trying to reorient the discussion to more defensible waters.
A month later, the three Horsemen met twice in three days for debates, with Walsh saying about Trump in Nashville Oct. 26 that “I believe he is a traitor,” and Sanford maintaining defensively in Detroit Oct. 28 that “If you want to kill him off, you have to kill him off at the ballot box.” But the next-day headlines after both events were all about impeachment, not the forgotten men trying to remind a unified party of what it professed to believe in as recently as 2014.
Within two weeks, Sanford had had enough.
“Impeachment has made my goal of making the debt, deficit and spending issue a part of this presidential debate impossible right now,” the candidate said in a Nov. 12 statement announcing his withdrawal from the race. “More than anything we need a debate about our debt and how we pay for this political season's many grand promises and the ones already accumulated in Washington. We also need a robust debate on trade and tariffs, our belief in institutions, the President's tone and a whole lot more, but those things will not happen in a Republican primary embattled with impeachment.”
It's probably wise not to read too much into the failures of 9-week presidential campaigns by incumbent congressmen who couldn’t even win a primary re-election in a conservative state. Yet the Stooges’ ongoing stumble has a historical precedent with a sobering outcome.
In 1972, an incumbent Republican who came to the White House after a narrow victory, and was reviled by the press for his crass manners, faced a couple of longshot primary challengers. Ohio Congressman John Ashbrook, a bit like Sanford, presented himself as the rock-ribbed conservative alternative to an ideologically promiscuous president. And California Congressman Pete McCloskey, who like Weld bet his whole candidacy on New Hampshire, ran explicitly as the last standard-bearer of the GOP’s storied anti-war tradition.
Ashbrook and McCloskey turned out to be speedbumps on Nixon’s downhill run to a re-election rout, receiving 10 percent and 19 percent of the vote in New Hampshire, respectively, and then bowing out. But what’s more haunting is McCloskey’s issue. After the lantern-jawed vet withdrew from the race, his anti-interventionist policy preferences largely withdrew from the party for the next two decades. The 2020 election may well be the last time we hear the Republican Party even pretend to care about fiscal conservatism. And if Trump wins re-election, you can kiss Walsh’s character/decorum issue goodbye as well.
“I think it's bleak,” Walsh told me. “I won't give you names, but I have plenty of my former colleagues in Congress who believe Trump's going to lose in 2020. They want him to lose. Then they believe we can just go back to where we were, but Trump's not leaving….That's why I think it's so important that you stake this ground now. They're not going to be able to pick up the pieces. I think the party is lost for a long, long time.”
August 2022 postscript: Joe Walsh ended his campaign after receiving 1.1 percent of the vote in the Feb. 3, 2020 Iowa caucuses, calling the Republican Party a “cult.” Bill Weld on his home turf won 9.1 percent in the Feb. 11 New Hampshire primary and 10.1 percent in the March 3 Vermont primary, but flagged elsewhere and suspended his campaignMarch 18. Justin Amashjoined the Libertarian Party and threw his hat into the presidential ring on April 28, then aborted his bid May 16. The little-known Clemson lecturer (and 1996 Libertarian vice presidential candidate) Jo Jorgensen won the L.P. nominationin May, and went on to receive 1.2 percentof the vote.