We had recent articles about all of the Republicans (here, here, here, and here) who are considering, or making moves, to challenge Donald Trump for the GOP nomination. We also did an article about the ways Trump has worked to manipulate the GOP system, to make it harder for a challenger. That would not be a surprise since the Hillary Clinton team worked hard to limit the field in 2016. However, Trump is the one who has said that elections should not be rigged. Regardless, we do have one announced GOP candidate to run against Trump—former Massachusetts governor, and 2016 Libertarian vice presidential candidate, William Weld.
Fox says it’s official—and the GOP establishment’s unprecedented move to discourage Trump challengers.
Former Massachusetts GOP Gov. Bill Weld has launched a committee to explore a 2020 Republican primary challenge against President Trump. . .
“I encourage those of you who are watching the current administration nervously but saying nothing to stand up and speak out,” Weld declared to the audience and a large gathering of local and national reporters. . .
And he slammed Trump, claiming “we have a president whose priorities are skewed toward promoting of himself rather than toward the good of the country.”
Weld also described the president as “compulsive” and “irrational.”
And he lamented the state of the GOP, arguing “the president has captured the Republican Party in Washington. Sad. But even sadder is that many Republicans exhibit all the symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome, identifying with their captor.”
The Republican National Committee recently kicked off its annual meeting winter by passing an unprecedented pledge giving the president “undivided support” even before he’s the official 2020 nominee. But the RNC didn’t consider a stronger resolution that would have endorsed Trump as the party’s 2020 nominee.
The Washington Examiner reported Weld’s reason for running—as well as the fact that incumbent presidents who are seriously challenged in primaries have lost in the general election, as we also noted in these pages.
“I’m here because our country is in grave peril, and I cannot sit quietly on the sidelines any longer,” Weld said. . .
Former Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are frequently-mentioned potential 2020 primary challengers to Trump.
If they or other potential challengers emerge as serious electoral threats to Trump in Republican contests, it could bode poorly for the incumbent. Former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H. W. Bush each fought off serious primary challenges but each lost in November. And President Lyndon Johnson in 1968 quit the race after a closer-than-expected win in the New Hampshire primary.
However, although primary challenges doom a president’s chance of re-election, FiveThirtyEight notes that no recent same-party challenger has knocked off a president at the convention.
In all likelihood, President Trump would crush any Republican who tries to primary him. An incumbent president has not lost a bid for renomination since Chester A. Arthur at the GOP convention in 1884 — meaning that it’s never happened in the modern era of presidential primaries.
Business Insider reports more of his reasons for running.
“We have a president whose priorities are skewed toward promotion of himself rather than toward the good of the country,” Weld said of Trump at the event.
“To compound matters, our President is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office — which include the specific duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — in a competent and professional matter,” Weld added. “He is simply in the wrong place.”
The Boston Globe adds:
Accusing Trump of denigrating the free press, humiliating foreign allies, and heaping praise on authoritarian leaders, Weld said the president is a “schoolyard bully” and “simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office in the land.”
Even the British publication, The Independent quotes Weld.
“The truth is that we have wasted an enormous amount of time by humoring this president, indulging him in his narcissism and his compulsive, irrational behavior,” he said.
The Washington Times notes that we were tipped off about Weld’s intentions when he changed his affiliation back from Libertarian to Republican.
Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld has changed his party registration from Libertarian back to Republican as he mulls a possible primary challenge against President Donald Trump.
Even more indicative is that the Libertarian Republic is reporting that Weld is leaving his job to campaign.
Weld has taken a leave of absence from his law office and changed his party affiliation from Libertarian back to Republican as of January 17th.
The Bulwark (“conservatism conserved”) notes that things may not be so glum for Weld since New Hampshire is first—and is in a libertarian area.
But let’s be clear: While it’s very unlikely that Weld (or anyone else, for that matter) is going to beat Trump in the totality of the 2020 primary contest, or even grab a substantial number of delegates, Weld running as the anti-Trump Republican might not be as stupid a move as a lot of people seem to think.
New Hampshire has been the migration point for the “Free State Movement,” which seeks to get libertarian-minded people to move more firmly entrench its standing as a home for individuals who favor free markets and free thinking.
Weld is well-known in the state whose motto is “Live Free or Die,” and he undoubtedly has better currency there, because of all these factors plus one more: He was the 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee in a year when the Libertarian ticket got about 3.3 percent of the vote nationwide and 4.2 percent in the Granite State itself. . .
The fact is, if Weld plays his cards right, he could come out of New Hampshire with a not-insignificant percentage of the vote. And what happens in New Hampshire has a tendency to totally upend presidential nomination assumptions and voting patterns afterward.
Remember: Trump did not win the Iowa caucuses in 2016. But he did win New Hampshire by a mile, re-establishing him as the frontrunner in 2016.
OK. So, the bottom line is, if Weld (or another Republican) gives Trump strong competition, they probably won’t get the nomination, but they will likely weaken Trump enough to make him lose in November. Considering what Weld has to say about Trump (see above), knocking Trump out of the White House may be a “win’ for Weld.