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Austin Peterson Deconstructs His LP POTUS Campaign

CAM01063-1 In a speech earlier today at FreedomFest, Austin Peterson deconstructed his 2016 run for the Libertarian Party’s POTUS nomination, outlined his plans for the future, and answered questions from the audience.  What follows is a partial transcript of the highlights. Audio of the entire presentation can be downloaded ($5) HERE.

PETERSON: Some of you might have seen me in the presidential debates which I was very honored to be able to participate in. Today I am going to talk about the Politics of Principle.  What it is like to run a campaign with Principle as a core of the campaign. . . .  This sounds silly, but I make Libertarianism look sexy. . . . My libertarianism was born out of my instincts in my family; I grew up on a farm, racing horses, shooting guns, wearing cowboy boots and living a libertarian lifestyle before I moved to New York City and Washington, DC. I spent years in the trenches as an activist doing boots-on-the-ground campaigning. I have petitioned; I have stood out in the rain to gather signatures. . . .  I never had any intention to run for President of the United States. . . . I worked for the Libertarian National Committee for a year; I worked for the Atlas Foundation, as it is called now.  Then I moved on to FOX. . . . Being 35 years old and running for President is rather audacious, but we managed to raise $125,000. That was enough for me to do what I needed to do.

People say, “You have to compromise your principles when you run for office.” While I am not the candidate, I was almost the candidate, and perhaps I might be one again, but the principles were what drew people to my campaign.  It wasn’t because I look like Marco Rubio. . . . While I have tried to perfect the Art of the Image, the cosmetic reasons only go so far. . . . I hoped that Jim Webb would win the Democratic Party nomination, Rand Paul would win the Republican Party nomination and I would be the Libertarian, because no matter who loses, America would have won. . . .

At the very beginning raising funds, I had to go up to people, look them in the face and say, “I am a 35 year-old man with no political or elective experience, but I will be your next Commander-in-Chief. Give me money.”


But fortune favors the bold. . . . I looked at my supporters as customers . . . as investors. . . .  What I learned was, I had to give them something for their money.  So when the first Presidential Debate rolled around . . . John Stossel asked a fateful question of all of us.  He said, “John McAfee, you might have killed somebody in Belize.” Then he said, “You seem a little stoned, Gary; are you stoned right now?” and then, “Austin, my problem with you is that you are 12 years old.” I looked at him and I said, “On July Fourth 1776, Thomas Jefferson was 33 years old. James Madison was 25 years old. Alexander Hamilton was 21 and the Marquis De Lafayette was 18 years old on that day.  Young people built this country; we founded it.” And that was it; the change happened.  I gave Gary a hard time about gun control and Nazi cakes. . . .

For me to build my donor list, I had to give people an incentive; so what was the incentive? Calling them on the phone. . . .  Every time someone liked a post on Facebook, or shared a story . . . I contacted them directly and . . . asked for their phone number to call them personally. . . . I built an enormous list that way. I would spend six, to eight, to twelve hours a day on the phone calling my voters. . . . When I got someone on the phone I had a 90 percent success rate in getting a donation. . . . By the time the phone call was over . . . I would say, “This was a great talk today; I have to run, but could I ask you for a favor?”  They say, “Yes.”  The favor is, “Would you please donate?” . . .

For so long conservatives have dominated America and libertarians have been a rump movement.  But I found myself in this position where conservatives were coming to my table now. . . . I did not mind being their second pick for the prom. . . .

Fundraising started to snowball. . . . I hope that I inspired a new generation of Libertarian leaders.  You do not have to have a lot of money. . . . The issues that I put on the map were the gun control issue . . . the Nazi cake issue . . . and the third issue, surprisingly, letters of marque. . . .  It was the privateers that won our independence . . . there were only like 30 ships in the Continental Navy, there were 1,300 privateers who went out and did battle. . . . They did the same thing in the War of 1812.  They were “patriotic mercenaries.” . . . Liberals control the narrative and because they are all a bunch of weenies, their foreign policy is like, “Oh, golly!  No!! Only the government can kill the terrorists.”  Well, they are not doing a very good job.

I do not know just yet (if I will run again).  As much fun as it looks like from the outside, it is as scary as hell running for office; it is quite a sacrifice. . . . I feel I played my role as opposition admirably. . . . John McAfee has become like a second father to me. . . . Wonderful man.

I am voting for Gary Johnson. . . . He was the front-runner in my race, so he got to act like it; but now he is the underdog. So I hope that he goes out there and fights like a pit bull against Hillary and against Trump because I sure as hell would not want either one of them; so I will be supporting Governor Gary Johnson for President of the United States.  Thanks very much for coming to this.


A Question and Answer session followed.

Audio of the entire presentation can purchased ($5) HERE.


About Post Author

Joseph Buchman

Joe is a retired, formerly tenured professor of marketing and finance with a passion for adventure travel, chasing total solar eclipses, and Burning Man. He is a long-time volunteer with the Sundance, Sonoma, and Napa Valley Film Festivals, former Chair of the Utah Libertarian Party, former Chair of the LP Platform Committee, and former Chair and three-term member of the LP's financial Audit Committee. Joe and Cindy have raised four highly successful children, several cats, and yet have generally failed miserably with every houseplant ever gifted to them.


  1. Tony From Long Island Tony From Long Island July 18, 2016

    If he says he is voting for Gary Johnson, why does he seem to frequently undercut him in public statements?

  2. Cody Quirk Cody Quirk July 16, 2016

    I agreed with a lot of AP’s viewpoints, yet this year the focus is on getting the LP into mainstream politics and expanding the party base as the main priorities.
    However unless Gary actually gets elected this year, this should be it for him as an LP presidential candidate; it should be someone else for 2020, and I’m willing to back AP then, should he run… unless he doesn’t, and/or unless a more better known & right-leaning LP’er jumps into the race.
    AP isn’t perfect, but next time around, I’m willing to put aside my previous views of him.

  3. Thomas Knapp Thomas Knapp July 16, 2016

    I doubt that Austin is selling it directly, or even getting a cut of the sales proceeds from FreedomFest. They do pay their speakers (at least some of them, anyway), but they’re a for-profit project. Austin’s incentive would be to get the thing out to as many people as possible for free so that he can start drumming up support for 2020.

  4. Joseph Buchman Joseph Buchman Post author | July 16, 2016

    FreedomFest is selling audio CDs and downloadable MP3s of all of their speakers for $5. For sessions that were videotaped, the DVD is $10.

    I am not aware that Austin is selling this directly. He apparently streamed it for free (Periscope?) from a volunteer’s cell phone camera. I believe it was mentioned that 133 people were signed up for that livestream.

  5. Anthony Dlugos Anthony Dlugos July 16, 2016

    He’s selling this for $5? You have got to be kidding me.

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