President Donald Trump competed for the Republican nomination against all challengers – neoconservative and libertarian, male and female, handsome and overweight – and his fight culminated in November 2016, when he defeated career politician Hillary Clinton. But Trump has never faced someone like this two-term governor, attorney, flip-flopper, and Republican-turned-Libertarian-turned-Republican, William Weld.
Unless you lived in Massachusetts in the 1990s or you’re a political junkie who can name every one of the approximately 2,020 candidates running for president in 2020, it is safe to say that most Americans are unaware of Weld. But that is not deterring the 2016 Libertarian running mate of former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-NM) from realizing his dream of fighting white supremacy and Nazism – yes, Weld has already gone there.
Buffalo Bill, Won’t You Come Out Tonight
Weld appeared on CNN a day after publishing his campaign video press release, a nostalgic trip to the 1990s that compiled his greatest hits as attorney general and governor. Sure, but what have you done for the American people lately? The self-described Reagan Republican declared his intentions for the next presidential election, confirming that he will return the party “to the principles of Lincoln – equality, dignity, and opportunity for all.”
(It is unclear if he will also bring back diseases from the days of Lincoln, particularly scarlet fever.)
Weld, who “vouched” for Hillary Clinton just days before millions of Americans went to the polls, accused Trump of not even pretending to be a fiscal conservative:
“And, you know, the country deserves to have some fiscal restraint and conservatism and cutting spending in Washington, D.C. Right now, all that really is coming out of Washington is divisiveness, and both parties are responsible for that, but the grandmaster of that is the president himself. I’ve never seen such bitterness in this country.”
And if you think you’re having a déjà vu moment, you’d be wrong. Weld announced in February that he would be exploring a primary challenge to the president, thinking he has a shot in the states of New England, the mid-Atlantic, and the Pacific. Should Weld lose his bid to get on the Republican ticket, he will not run as an Independent, though he did not rule out endorsing a Democrat.
As Weld attempts to cold call the mainstream media and convince the cable news networks to pour millions of dollars worth of free advertising into his campaign, the real question everybody wants to be answered is: What happened to his affiliation with the Libertarian Party?
You Know Full Weld
So far, Weld is alone in his quest to send President Trump back to his penthouse in New York City with his supermodel wife and gold-plated toilets. There’s a reason why others have not had delusions of grandeur ahead of next year’s popcorn-inducing sideshow: Nobody within the GOP can beat Trump.
On a bad day, Trump’s approval rating is 88%; on a good day, it tops 90% among Republicans. He raised $30 million in the first quarter; the leading Democratic contenders have received half of that, and Weld could probably get a couple of bucks in handouts from the Never-Trump crowd. The latest 2020 presidential primary poll from February shows Weld sitting at 3%; the closest anybody comes to Trump is Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) with 19%.
Can the Republican National Committee anticipate more candidates to throw their hats in the ring to make history and kick out a sitting president from their party? Maybe Vermin Supreme is waiting in the wings for his opportunity to hit the big time, but it’s unlikely Trump will lose support from his own party a la former President John Tyler and the Whigs.
Sorry, CNN and MSNBC, unless Trump kicks a baby or reveals he is literally Adolf Hitler, the Republican Party is not ditching all that winning.
George Will (Somewhat) Gets His Wish
Heading into the election season, columnist George Will has gotten his way: Bill Weld is in prime time.
Though it isn’t because Weld is going to unleash a didactic campaign in the same way William F. Buckley did in ’65 or Ron Paul in ‘08, hoping to sway the American people to the ideas of conservatism or libertarianism. It is because there is a minute possibility of infighting in the GOP, and the mainstream press wants to milk it or drum up controversy when there isn’t any.
Much in the same way that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is hoping to get a rise out of Vice President Mike Pence by routinely calling him out for no reason, Weld is praying to the Founding Fathers in heaven to get President Trump to type his name on Twitter to gain any sort of name recognition. Unfortunately for Weld, when voters saunter into the voting booth, the only thing they will say when they see his name is: Bill who?