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Amash launches exploratory committee for Libertarian presidential run

Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashIncoming GOP lawmaker shares video of hotel room workout, citing 'Democrat tyrannical control' Rundown of the House seats Democrats, GOP flipped on Election Day Romney congratulates Biden after victory MORE (I-Mich.) announced Tuesday that he has launched an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, his strongest indication yet that he will mount a third-party White House bid.

“Today, I launched an exploratory committee to seek the @LPNational’s nomination for president of the United States. Americans are ready for practical approaches based in humility and trust of the people,” Amash tweeted.

“We’re ready for a presidency that will restore respect for our Constitution and bring people together. I’m excited and honored to be taking these first steps toward serving Americans of every background as president,” he added.

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The former Republican congressman has been toying for months with the prospect of waging a third-party campaign for the presidency and has come under an avalanche of pressure from Libertarians to throw his hat into the ring.

“He’d be acceptable to a lot of Libertarians, but also to a lot of those ‘Never Trump’ Republicans,” Joe Hunter, communications director for former New Mexico Gov. Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonOn The Trail: Making sense of Super Poll Sunday Polarized campaign leaves little room for third-party hopefuls The Memo: Trump retains narrow path to victory MORE’s Libertarian presidential run in 2016, told The Hill this month. “Of all the candidates out there, he’s at the top of the list of those that can bring us to a tipping point, where a third party or independent candidate convinces the media and donors that he or she can be relevant and have an impact on the race.”

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Amash has centered his political career around libertarian values, advocating for less government intervention in daily life and sharp cuts in federal spending to offset an exploding deficit.

The Michigan lawmaker has seen his national profile soar under President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE with his vocal attacks against the White House. Last year, the Republican-turned-Independent said he would back Democrats in their impeachment effort.

Amash left the GOP last summer, accusing Republicans of abandoning fiscal conservatism and turning a blind eye to “misbehavior” to appease the president. 

“This president will be in power for only a short time, but excusing his misbehavior will forever tarnish your name. To my Republican colleagues: Step outside your media and social bubble. History will not look kindly on disingenuous, frivolous, and false defenses of this man,” Amash said before supporting the House’s impeachment resolution in October.

His criticism has earned visceral rebukes from the GOP as well as a handful of Republican challengers in his House reelection campaign.

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While he would have to face off against other Libertarians to win the party’s 2020 nomination, he would by far be the most prominent third-party contender to run for the White House this cycle.

It is still unclear if Amash would draw more support away from Trump or former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force MORE, the Democratic Party’s presumptive nominee.

“Trump has the Republican Party locked down, so any Republican at this point who is not voting for Trump is a potential Biden voter,” a GOP operative told The Hill earlier this month. “But if you’re a Republican who is just tired of the noise and you don’t necessarily agree with Biden on the issues and all of a sudden Justin Amash comes along, here’s a pretty attractive third-party option for you now.”