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Amash on eyeing presidential bid: 'Millions of Americans' want someone other than Trump, Biden

Amash on eyeing presidential bid: 'Millions of Americans' want someone other than Trump, Biden
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Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashBiden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports Republicans eye primaries in impeachment vote MORE (I-Mich.) on Wednesday brushed off political concerns over his decision to explore a potential run for president as a Libertarian, insisting that voters should have an option on the ballot in November other than President TrumpDonald TrumpCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Ivanka Trump doubles down on vaccine push with post celebrating second shot Conservative Club for Growth PAC comes out against Stefanik to replace Cheney MORE and former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenCaitlyn Jenner on Hannity touts Trump: 'He was a disruptor' Argentina launches 'Green Mondays' campaign to cut greenhouse gases On The Money: Federal judge vacates CDC's eviction moratorium | Biden says he's open to compromise on corporate tax rate | Treasury unsure of how long it can stave off default without debt limit hike MORE.

“There are millions of Americans who aren't represented by either Donald Trump or Joe Biden, who aren't represented by the Republicans or the Democrats,” Amash, 40, told MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin in an interview. “And those millions of Americans deserve a choice on the ballot. And it's pretty silly to say, well, we shouldn't allow another candidate to be on the ballot.”

Amash pointed to other presidential candidates who initially faced backlash after announcing their White House bids, including former President Obama, who launched a campaign for the presidency little more than two years after entering the Senate. 

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“We can always say the next election is the time, or the one after that,” Amash said. “But the truth is, the system will never change unless people step up.”

The Michigan congressman’s comments came less than a day after he announced that he would explore a potential run for the Libertarian presidential nomination. 

Amash, a conservative serving out his fifth term in the House, left the GOP last year out of concern for the direction the party has taken under Trump. He sought to run for reelection to his House seat as an independent this cycle, a decision that drew a handful of Republican challengers to the race.

It’s unclear how Amash’s potential White House run could affect the race between Trump and Biden. On one hand, it could boost Biden if small-government conservatives move away from Trump and towards Amash in the general election. 

But the move could help the president by pulling the support of center-right voters who remain uneasy with Trump and may have otherwise voted for Biden, a possibility that rattled Democrats after Amash announced his decision.

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“The noise you heard yesterday was a confetti cannon going off in the White House when Justin Amash announced that he was running for president,” former Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemings asked about Senate run after sparring with Jordan on police funding Republicans fret over divisive candidates Greitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP MORE (D-Mo.) said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” earlier Wednesday. 

“Every single anti-Trump vote needs to be focused on the viable candidate for president. Every single one. We do not have room for error in this election. This is no time for a Ross Perot or a Jill Stein or a Ralph Nader,” she added, referencing a slew of third-party candidates that won relatively high levels of support during their respective presidential bids.

Amash responded to McCaskill’s remarks, saying that the impact his would-be campaign has on the presidential race “cuts both ways.”

“This is about democracy. It's about representative government,” he said on MSNBC. “And the idea that we're going to tell people, 'hey, we can't have another choice on the ballot because it might upset one or the other candidate,' that's pretty ridiculous. And I will hear from lots of Trump supporters as well who say, ‘oh, you're helping Joe Biden.’”

To antagonize someone for mounting a third-party bid for the White House amounts to a form of “voter suppression,” he added.

“If people want to vote for someone, they should vote for that person. And if they don't want to vote for that person, don't vote for that person,” Amash said. “But don't attempt voter suppression essentially by denying people more candidates on the ballot. That seems really ridiculous and, frankly, anti-American.”