Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is taking a major step toward challenging the renomination of President Donald Trump by forming a committee today to explore a Republican primary bid for President in 2020.
In 2016, Weld, 73, was the vice presidential running mate on the Libertarian Party ticket with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson against Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Weld said he looks forward to this testing the waters phase and believes it will result in a presidential campaign.
“I think there definitely is a path to victory but you want to test the market a bit. I look forward to talking to a variety of people. You want to make sure the motion doesn’t fail for lack of a second but it won’t,” Weld said during a telephone interview with the Union Leader Thursday.
“Everyone I have talked to says you are running as an R, count me in.”
Weld will be speaking to the Politics and Eggs Forum at the Bedford Village Inn this morning(Friday).
Weld said it’s possible there will be other challengers to Trump but it was important for him to step forward as the first one.
“I think Governor (John) Kasich may still get in, Governor (Larry) Hogan of Maryland may still get in. I do think it is important the President be challenged, even confronted and I don’t mind doing that one bit,” Weld said.
“The fact that no one has raised his or her hand at this point and I am is relevant.”
Republican State Chairman Stephen Stepanek said Weld will fail to be a credible challenger given his recent party switch.
“Bill Weld was a Republican until he turned his back, became a Libertarian and ran for vice president and he said I’m a Libertarian for life,” Stepanek said.
“Well I guess he died and was reincarnated because he came back as a Republican.
“ I don’t think the voters will trust him.”
If Weld does run, Stepanek stressed he would remain neutral in this race but remains doubtful it will actually happen.
“The reality is a Weld candidacy would drive conservatives to the polls to say he’s not one of us and it would actually pump up base turnout for this President,” Stepanek said.
For his part, Weld said Trump is one who can hardly make a claim of loyalty to the GOP.
“I don’t think he is conservative at all. Sure I have been until recently a Libertarian for three years and other than that a Republican since I was 18 years old,” Weld said.
“The President has spent most of his life as a New York state Democrat, raising money for Hillary Cllinton and many others. I believe in redemption so I don’t hold that against him.”
Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said Weld’s move underscores how unpopular this President is especially among independent swing voters.
“Over the past three years, we’ve seen Republicans fully embrace the harmful, radical, and erratic agenda of President Trump,” Buckley said in a statement.
“With Governor Bill Weld’s announcement he is forming an exploratory committee for President, it will be interesting to see if Republicans like Chris Sununu finally summon the courage to stand up to Trump and support his primary challenger or else stick with their support of Trump despite all he’s done to hurt our country and its citizens.”
Weld said Trump’s muscular foreign policy has turned some of our allies against America.
“His erratic moves on the international front are troubling, probably most troubling is tossing around threats of using nuclear weapons in the case of North Korea. He has also made moves to scrap nuclear arms control treaties,” Weld said.
Domestically, Weld also criticized Trump’s pursuit of trade sanctions on China and other trading partners.
“On the question of tariffs, he said he’s a tariff man. That’s what guys named Smoot and Hawley said and they almost on their own brought about the Great Depression. Doesn’t he read and understand history? I don’t think he does.”
Former Senator Reed Smoot and U.S. Rep. Willis C. Hawley coauthored the federal Tariff Act of 1930.
While taking out an incumbent President in a primary is difficult, Weld said Trump should worry that history is not on his side.
“My favorite stat on this score is the last nine times a first-term President has sought reelection, the four who had a primary challenge lost while the five who didn’t have a primary fight won another four-year term,” Weld said.
Democrats Lyndon Johnson in 1968 and Jimmy Carter in 1980 along with Republicans Gerald Ford in 1976 and George H. Bush in 1992 all were challenged in their reelection primaries and did not win a second term.
“I think 2020 could very well make it five to zero,” Weld added.