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Libertarian Presidential Candidate Says He Saw ‘Surge of Support’ After Cruz’s Departure


“I really am the anti-establishment candidate in an anti-establishment party.”

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAY 03: Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) walks away after announcing the suspension of his campaign during his election night watch party at the Crowne Plaza Downtown Union Station on May 3, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Cruz lost the Indiana primary to Republican rival Donald Trump. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Could dissatisfaction with the choice between Republican presidential Candidate Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton set the stage for a third party to be successful in November? Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen thinks so.

“I decided to run because I was frustrated with Donald Trump,” Petersen told TheBlaze in an interview Friday, arguing that Trump has not displayed an understanding of the constitutional limits of the executive branch’s power.

Petersen said his Libertarian campaign saw “a surge of support" after Sen. Ted Cruz suspended his bid for the Republican nomination particularly "from the #NeverTrump crowd."

Following Cruz’s departure, Petersen said he is “the last constitutional candidate standing.”

Petersen said he hopes to “build a coalition” between libertarians and conservatives seeking an alternative to Trump in spite of their “real differences” over their shared respect for the Constitution.

Conservatives, Petersen said, have been “pushed out of the ranks” of the Republican Party.

“The Republican Party is no longer a conservative party, it’s a populist party,” Petersen said.

Asked about his platform, Petersen said he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.

Petersen said he supports an “Ellis Island-like” immigration system with one entrance point, which he said would foster both security and simplicity.

“I don’t believe we need to build a wall,” Petersen said.

Petersen said he embraces a “consistent” and “secular” pro-life ethic of opposition to both abortion and the death penalty.

“No matter what I believe, I will obey the law and respect the limits of power,” Petersen said. “I really am the anti-establishment candidate in an anti-establishment party.”

The Libertarian Party’s 2016 National Convention begins May 27 in Orlando, Florida.

Follow Kate Scanlon (@kgscanlon) on Twitter

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