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Justin Amash launches exploratory committee in step toward presidential run

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Washington — Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, an Independent who left the Republican Party last year after becoming disillusioned with party politics, announced Tuesday he is exploring a third-party bid for the White House.

Amash announced on Twitter he is forming an exploratory committee to seek the Libertarian Party's nomination for president, with the message, "Let's do this."

"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."

The five- term congressman shared a link to a website, Amash for America, that states, "We're ready. For something new."

Amash, 40, declared on the Fourth of July last year that would be leaving the GOP and said today's political system is "trapped in a partisan death spiral." He also lamented that politicians appear more loyal to their party than the American people. In December, Amash voted to impeach President Trump on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

Amash's prospective candidacy is the latest twist in a presidential contest that has been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, but mandatory stay-at-home orders and public health guidelines restricting large gatherings have left him to campaign from his Delaware home.

Both he and Mr. Trump's campaign have shifted to holding events online as they work to rally support, and Biden has rolled out a steady stream of high-profile endorsements, including from former President Obama, Hillary Clinton and former rival candidate Senator Bernie Sanders. Many states have postponed in-person primaries and others have expanded vote-by-mail.

Mr. Trump weighed in on Amash's announcement Wednesday, claiming he is likely to lose his seat in Congress in November. The Cook Political Report moved Amash's district, Michigan's 3rd, from a toss-up to leans Republican in December.

"No, I think Amash would make a wonderful candidate, especially since he is way behind in his district and has no chance of maintaining his Congressional seat. He almost always votes for the Do Nothing Dems anyway. I like him even more than Jill Stein!" the president tweeted.

The Libertarian Party is set to hold its convention, where it will select a nominee for president and vice president, in Austin, Texas, late next month. But Daniel Fishman, executive director of the Libertarian Party, said Tuesday the convention seems unlikely to happen.

"So it's unclear exactly when we will be nominating a candidate, but the race is still wide open," he said, adding that Libertarians "welcome everybody at this point in time."

"I think people's dissatisfaction with the current administration, with both candidates," Fishman said. 

It's unclear how Amash would impact the November election if he is on the ballot. In 2016, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who ran as a Libertarian, won just over 3% of the vote nationwide.

Aaron Navarro contributed to this report.

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