HAMBURG, N.Y. — A few dozen people gathered in the upstairs room at Hoak's Restaurant in Hamburg Monday afternoon to hear Libertarian vice presidential candidate Jeremy "Spike" Cohen speak.
It's a familiar scene for Cohen who has spent 2020 traveling all over the country speaking to small groups like this.
"By the time this is over we'll have visited almost every single state and multiple locations in those states as well," he said. "We are taking the message to American people like no other party is doing."
It's a stark contrast to the two major party tickets, who in an unusual campaign year, have not been able to travel as much. However, Jones said the Libertarian ticket doesn't have the luxury of reaching people other ways, like traditional news media or television ads, and has been excluded from debates.
"Is it tougher for us? Absolutely but we're fighting the good fight and we do better every election cycle than we did the one before," he said.
Jones, an activist who is serving as the running mate to Jo Jorgensen, believes despite the obstacles presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 could be a landmark year for the Libertarian Party movement. He said his ticket is the only third party ticket to get ballot access in all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and Guam.
"The worse it gets, the more polarized the rhetoric gets, the more people just throw their hands up and say, ‘wow, this whole thing isn't for me,’ the more we have an opportunity to share our message and grow our party," Cohen said.
Despite the almost non-existent chance of a third party victory, Cohen doesn't think that way. He said his and Jorgensen's campaign is about making people understand they have the power to change the system.
"What I'm saying is you have the power to stop this. When they shame you into voting for them, when they say, 'oh my gosh, you can't vote for a third party, you'll ruin everything,’ they're telling you that you have the power. They're horrified at the thought that you won't vote for them," he said.
Cohen was initially running with performance artist Vermin Supreme, who among other things, wears a boot on his head and has promised free ponies for everybody. The VP candidate has made some of his own outlandish promises including free "cheesy bread" and Waffle Houses on every corner.
He has publicly called those vows "satire" to draw people in to talk about policy. The forum Tuesday focused on more serious policy platforms like smaller government and police reform.