Election 2020

It's Official: Bill Weld to Challenge Trump in 2020 Republican Primary

Vice presidential nominee William Weld speaks at the Libertarian Party National Convention in Orlando, Fla., on May 29, 2016. (Phelan M. Ebenhack via AP)

On Monday afternoon, former Gov. Bill Weld (R-Mass.) announced his candidacy for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination. In 2016, he ran for vice president on the Libertarian ticket with former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-N.M.). In that race, Weld infamously told voters to pull the lever for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“I’m here vouching for Mrs. Clinton,” Weld told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow days before Trump was elected. He claimed not to be endorsing Clinton, since he was running against her, but the way Weld warned about Trump and the way he said he vouched for Clinton certainly sent a clear message about whom he’d rather see in the White House. He also endorsed Barack Obama in 2008, has long supported abortion, and was named U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by President Bill Clinton.

Weld chose a particularly inauspicious day to announce his 2020 candidacy. April 15 is the anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s passing in 1865, the day of the RMS Titanic’s sinking in 1912, and the day Paris’s stunning Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire this year. It is also Tax Day.

“Ours is a nation built on courage, resilience, and independence. In these times of great political strife, when both major parties are entrenched in their ‘win at all cost’ battles, the voices of the American people are being ignored and our nation is suffering,” Weld said in his announcement statement.

“It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag. It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln – equality, dignity, and opportunity for all.  There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight,” the former governor declared.

His campaign launch video slammed Trump for his infamous Access Hollywood comments, his remarks after the white nationalist riots in Charlottesville, Va., and more. He also presented his record as a prosecutor and Republican governor in deep blue Massachusetts.

In his announcement message, Weld noted his appointment as a U.S. attorney by Ronald Reagan, calling himself a “Reagan Republican.”

“Bill Weld is uniquely qualified to serve the American people as President,” his campaign’s announcement message reads. “He has an unblemished record of service and leadership. In addition to seven years in the Department of Justice, he served two terms as Governor in Massachusetts, where he was reelected by the largest margin in state history.”

Weld does have an impressive fiscal conservative record. During his time in office, he cut taxes 21 times, never raised them, signed welfare reform, balanced the budget, and oversaw six upgrades in the state’s bond rating. He was ranked the most fiscally conservative governor in the country by the Cato Institute and the Wall Street Journal.

Yet his stance on abortion, his advocacy on LGBT issues, and his frequent support for Democrats place him more in the Libertarian than the Republican camp. He seems particularly ill-suited to challenge Trump at a time when Democrats’ radicalism on abortion and against religious freedom are riling up Republicans. Weld has also supported unfettered immigration and compared Trump’s rhetoric on the issue to the actions of Nazis rounding up Jews.

Weld gives Republicans another choice in the primary. They can choose President Trump, who has largely proven his conservative credentials on every issue but cutting the debt, or they can choose Bill Weld, a Republican who has effectively endorsed the very Democrat he was running against, a pro-abortion candidate who has compared Trump to Nazis, and a supporter of Barack Obama.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.