CONCORD — Republican presidential challenger Bill Weld said impeachment proceedings could boost his candidacy and improve his longshot bid to beat President Trump in the first-in-the-nation primary.
With a small but vocal group of supporters, Weld, the 74-year-old former Massachusetts governor, signed up for his name to appear on New Hampshire's ballot.
A day earlier, former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford had ended his own GOP presidential bid, concluding the furor over the President's possible impeachment was stifling all other meaningful debate.
"I think that it is possible that the impact of cold, inconvertible facts coming out could bring more oxygen into the room," Weld said.
"It could fuel the candidacy of certainly people like myself as someone who from early on has been saying this President deserves to face impeachment by the U.S. House and removal from office in the U.S. Senate."
Weld said this is one of the most important elections in American history and said it would be "tragedy" if Trump wins a second term.
"This is the start of a great, amazing voyage for us," Weld said. "I think the New Hampshire primary has never been more important."
Joining Weld at this ceremony were three moderate Republicans, former Executive Councilor Peter Spaulding, ex-New Hampshire Housing Finance Agency Executive Director Claira Monier and ex-State Rep. Betty Tamposi.
Weld said he's trying to model his "insurgent" bid on that of John McCain, who won two New Hampshire primaries in 2000 and 2008.
“John McCain was left for dead on the battlefield twice," Weld said, noting that Spaulding was McCain's campaign chairman in both races.
In the latter campaign, Weld endorsed Democrat Barack Obama in the general election over Republican nominee McCain.
Weld had been a past supporter of another former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney.
In the 2016 presidential election, Weld was the vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party, running with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.
The Johnson-Weld ticket got 4.5 million votes, the most for a Libertarian Party effort in history and the highest for a third party for President since 1996.
About 45 years ago, Weld started his legal career as a lawyer on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry staff against then-President Richard Nixon.
Weld said he would advise those working on the Trump proceedings to make sure the process can be easily understood.
"It is better if you simplify the articles rather than loading up," Weld said.
Thus far, Weld said he's qualified to be on the ballot in three other states, Alabama, Arkansas and Michigan, and believes he would do well in several Super Tuesday states, including his former home state of Massachusetts, Vermont and California.
Weld said former Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick should run for the Democratic nomination if he concludes it is the proper course.
"I like Deval Patrick. He and I have spent some time together in recent years. I think he is a highly qualified person," Weld said.
"I would tell him not to be discouraged by any of the negativity that is out there about him running. He is certainly up to it.”
Weld said he spoke with Sanford after learning of his exit from the race on Tuesday but did not think it proper at this stage to ask for his support.
On campaign finance, Weld maintained he will have enough money to wage a competitive race against Trump here.
“The New Hampshire primary can’t be bought," Weld said.
"You require something in the order of seven figures to get your message out but you don’t need eight figures and I think that kind of spending could backfire.”
Weld said he had no evidence that state GOP leaders have set up roadblocks to his campaign.
"I don't think we have had much intersection," Weld said.