Bill Weld

Bill Weld Is Prepping To Be the First—and Most Improbable—Primary Challenger to Donald Trump (Updated)

Pro-choice, Obama-supporting "Libertarian for life" will take a "substantial" move Friday toward competing for the Republican presidential nomination.

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||| MARK KAUZLARICH/REUTERS/Newscom
MARK KAUZLARICH/REUTERS/Newscom

Can a pro-choice, pro-amnesty "Libertarian for life" who backed Barack Obama in 2008, thinks the phrase "all lives matter" is "nothing but a dog whistle," and maintained throughout 2016 that Hillary Clinton is preferable to Donald Trump, truly be competitive in the 2020 Republican Party presidential primary? That's what Bill Weld is set to begin finding out in New Hampshire tomorrow morning, when he takes what his friends are forecasting as a substantial move toward declaring his candidacy for president.

Weld, the 2016 Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee and current* honorary chair of a nonprofit whose purpose is to "stop the political duopoly" (*Update: Our America Initiative announced this afternoon that Weld has resigned that post effective today), took the pre-primary step January 17 of switching his Massachusetts voter registration back to a Trump-led GOP that he has repeatedly compared to the xenophobic Know-Nothing Party of the 1850s. He has scheduled a second New Hampshire visit for February 26, he has recruited former New Hampshire Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn to help, and his allies are writing thinkpieces about how "Democrats' hopes to take back the White House may lie in the hands of a Republican candidate." (Update 2: WMUR is reporting that Weld will announce Friday the formation of an exploratory committee.)

Like potential independent candidate Howard Schultz and Democrats, Weld's reception among Republicans has been on the chilly side, with even his own Trump-averse protégés, such as Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, making cautious statements like, "I'm a big fan of Bill Weld the person, but the decision he makes to run for office is very much his own."

The northeastern moderate conservative was already an endangered species long before Donald Trump began reshaping the GOP; you can count the number of pro-choice Capitol Hill Republicans on half of one hand. Weld stands opposite Trump on trade wars, immigration crackdowns, the national debt, entitlement reform, the rule of law ("Well honestly, hasn't our incumbent done six times [more than Richard Nixon] in public with Manafort in the investigations?" Weld said to me last month), and what he described at the Libertarian Party National Convention last July as "this pitting of us against them and trying to divide everybody."

So why the interest in being a bug on Trump's windshield? Aside from the opportunity to be the first declared 2020 Republican competitor (and near his home turf, to boot), with all the national and local press attention that could generate, Weld has long been nurturing the theory that modern politics are inherently unpredictable. "You think about Donald Trump in 2014, you couldn't got 100 to one on Donald Trump," he said at the L.P. national convention last year. "Emanuel Macron from France in 2015, which is two years before he was elected, you couldn't count on 100 to one for him, because his party didn't exist."

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With Trump shaking up the GOP even more than independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) shook up the Democratic Party in 2016 and beyond, the perpetually bemused Weld might be thinking, so you're saying there's a chance. "I think he is probably noting that he won his first gubernatorial election in 1990 in a state where only 14 percent of voters were Republicans," New Hampshire Republican consultant and Weld confidant Tom Rath told WMUR. "[He] appears to savor a challenge at the point where he feels as though 'If nobody else does something, I'll do something.'"

If Weld indeed takes the Republican plunge, he'll have an awful lot of his own recent GOP bashing to contend with, including his statement at the Libertarian Party Massachusetts just four months ago that "I think [there's] going to be a crevasse in the two-party monopoly, which is our bounded duty to destroy by every means at our disposal….I feel that either the Libertarian Party has seeped into my veins, or I've seeped into the Libertarian Party a lot in the last couple of years."

Here are seven more occasions over the past 15 months that I have witnessed Weld lambast the leaders and followers of the political party about which he said upon leaving, "I feel free, free at last." All quotes are verbatim.

1) January 20, 2019: LibertyCon, in Washington, D.C.

Lately, I've become more and more concerned about what's going on in D.C. It seems to me that certain actions seem to go beyond lack of stability—which, as you know, I complained about throughout the 2016 cycle. Maybe even crossing the line into deranged decision-making.

||| Matt Welch
Matt Welch

2) October 13, 2018: Massachusetts Libertarian Party convention, Springfield.

Make no mistake about it, both the R Party and the D Party, they're both nanny-state parties….I never say "duopoly," because I think it doesn't register with a lot of people; I just call it the two-party monopoly in Washington, D.C. And there's an awful lot of people who think, for whatever reason, that they've got to do what mommy did and what daddy did. And that's the reason for a lot of the adherence to the R Party and the D Party. It's not rational at all.

3) July 30, 2018: Reason Podcast, Las Vegas.

If you recall, back in the 2016 convention they said "How do you feel?" after I became a Libertarian candidate, and I said, "Free! Free at last. Because I've been running for office for 20 years carrying around the Republican Party's social policies like a 30-pound weight on my back."…

Matt Welch: Has Trump been as bad as you forecasted? How has he played out in your mind, compared to what you were warning about those two, three weeks before the election?

Weld: Worse, worse.

Welch: In what way?

Weld: Well, to lie every day to the American people, that is something….To say to NATO, "We've got to go to four percent [of GDP spending on defense]," and to say the next day, "No, I never said that, I didn't say that," even when the things he said were on the public record. It's like he doesn't care whether what he says is true. And I don't think this is a vicious dig, I think this is right out there on top of the record. People say, "Well, he's invincibly ignorant, he can't be held to account." I don't buy that for a second, he's teaching lessons to our children, to the next generation, and that should not come out of the Oval office in the White House.

4) July 1, 2018: lunch talk at the Libertarian National Convention, New Orleans.

I've always been a liberal about immigration—part of it for economic reasons, not moral reasons. But I got the prize every year, the Golden Door Award, for being the most welcoming towards immigrants. Because I read the history books, I know that America's strength is that it has always been a melting pot. So just showing the snarl of teeth—which candidly, is what this president is doing—is really not helpful.

5) April 29, 2018: Interview at the California Libertarian Party Convention, Long Beach.

I did express [in 2016] the fact that I thought that [Hillary Clinton] was maybe more palatable than the Republican candidate, whom I've compared to certain figures in Germany in the 1930s and '40s, and never saw anything during the campaign that made me see fit to change my opinion there.

6) April 28, 2018: Speech at the California Libertarian Party Convention, Long Beach.

The number one thing we need to do by November 2020 is to elect a Libertarian president of the United States. This is entirely feasible….My own view is that both the R party and the D party are splitting in half right now; they just don't know it yet.

7) November 4, 2017: Students for Liberty Conference, New York.

The Libertarian Party is more congenial to me, dogmatically, ideologically, than either of the other two parties, because the Democratic Party is not fiscally responsible and the Republican Party is not socially tolerant. So, I'm one for two in each of the other two parties.

NEXT: Another "Stop Talking About Him" Order -- Apparently Covering Even Republishing Police Report

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  1. Yellow Man Bad. Unless we’re talking about Mr. Chin.

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  2. Kamala or Weld, who you got?

    1. Kamala Harris will easily beat any Republican in 2020. I’m talking a bare minimum of 330 electoral votes (which of course shouldn’t matter).

      I do respect that Weld effectively endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016, though.

      1. You’re such a pathetic troll. Kamala will never be president and won’t even win her party’s nomination. Rand Paul would wipe the floor with any Democrat in a hypothetical matchup.

  3. So L’s get played by yet another R who uses them for a bit

    1. Yet another D in their A, and for nothing.

    2. The warmongering fascist ran as a Dem, the populist Dem ran as a Republican, and two washed up RINO ex-Governors ran as Libertarians.

      *sigh*

  4. Jesus christ, what an asshat.

    1. He needs to go get a real job.

  5. Bill Weld–Just another political opportunist looking for his slice of the Power Pie where ever he can find it.

  6. Do you think he’ll wait for the general election, or just go ahead and endorse a progressive in the primary?

    He won’t be able to resist endorsing Fauxcahontes, so maybe primary

  7. “The Libertarian Party is more congenial to me, dogmatically, ideologically, than either of the other two parties, because the Democratic Party is not fiscally responsible and the Republican Party is not socially tolerant. So, I’m one for two in each of the other two parties.”

    Umm, neither party is fiscally responsible or socially tolerant. Yes, I can see Repubs flocking to someone that voted Obama and endorsed Hillary.

    1. Is Weld socially tolerant of people who won’t celebrate what Weld is socially tolerant of?

      1. Not at all! When he ran with Johnson on the LP ticket in 2016 they were both full of glee then they stated that Govt. has the right to FORCE Christian bakers to serve same-sex weddings! I turned off their interview right after that!

        1. But you don’t understand Teddy, Christians are not black people, foreigners or Muslims… they’re just like you and me but they believe bad things.
          We can’t let them get away with not thinking the right sort of thoughts people like us should think.

          1. The weird thing is that the L.P. comes out with candidates that are missing some of the most fundamental elements of the libertarian position.

            I know, I know. They’re just trying to pull the liberals on board. But don’t expect me to vote for these disappointing excuses for libertarians.

            Voting for a fake libertarian is a WASTED VOTE!

  8. O/U on the % of the primary vote he’d get if he runs? I think he’d struggle to hit double digits in most states.

    1. Yes, I bet he gets a lot of single digits, I’m giving him one right now.

    2. I think he’s going to struggle to get double digits in absolute numbers, no less percentages. What an utter joke he is.

    3. O/U on the % of the primary vote he’d get if he runs? I think he’d struggle to hit a digit in most states.

      FTFY

      1. I mean, technically 0 is a digit.

  9. At least this means he won’t have a shot at the Libertarian nomination.

    1. You never know, the Libertarian Party does seem forgiving of high profile pols who abuse them.

    2. At least this means he won’t have a shot at the Libertarian nomination.

      What are you talking about? This will make him the LP candidate.

      After making a national ass of himself–going so far to show he’s unelectable that he shows that he’s even un-nominatable, the LP will come skulking around, kile they always do, sucking GOP loser ass and begging him to come back and be their candidate–all this while libertarians shriek ‘NO!!!1!!eleven!’

  10. It doesn’t matter what Bill Weld is doing.

  11. Why is it that the libertarian party finds a way of producing candidates like Weld and Gary Johnson? I feel like the best libertarians we’ve actually seen on a national level run in the Republican party (ie. Ron and Rand). Weld is so unpredictable, he’s too much of a risk to vote for. Half the stuff he says seems like it is only meant to surprise everyone, like he’s just trying to grab your attention with whacky comments.

    1. Because true libertarian values will never capture more than 10% of the US vote.

      1. Then no reason to vote Libertarian.There are non-Libertarians who actually have a chance of winning on a major party ticket.

      2. The Founders had a lot of Libertarian values, except for the slavery thing.

  12. Good riddance.
    And to think he got my vote as veep in 2016. Ugh. (Yes I vote L )

  13. This is good news. Now I won’t be voting for Weld when I throw away my vote by voting for whomever the Libertarian Party nominates.

  14. I’m a small “l” libertarian. The Libertarian Party is of no interest to me because it’s a confederation of lunatics, bounders, misfits, scammers, and certifiables. I have serious issues with the Republicans, but at least I know when they have a candidate in a humiliating and fatal news cycle, it will be over the traditional sex, money or power, and not because he turned himself blue.

    https://tinyurl.com/y5vuo4x3

    1. I’m a big-L Libertarian – and honestly most of the self-proclaimed libertarian lunatic nutjobs I’ve known in my life were small-l big-R. Yes I agree that pretty much every big-L who gets on stage to run for Prez is a nutjob but that’s not the majority of L’s.

      The majority of small-l big-R’s are people who actually say they’d be libertarian except they believe strongly in most wars and in beating up brown people, foreigners, Muslims, uppity women, anyone who goes to court, anyone who doesn’t like their boss, other people they don’t know who smoke dope, anyone in a lower income tax bracket. And honestly they pretty much spend all day yelling at just about everyone to get off their lawn. But hey – they’re just all live and let live. And if you disagree well they will assure they are heavily armed and if you want to see coercion, they are more than happy to oblige. Now get the fuck off my lawn and off that sidewalk too. And the road should be mine too.

      1. You have to admit though that there is a massive contingency of libertarians who are better described as self-serving rather than any ideological commitment to “liberty”, no matter how you define it. Given different circumstances, I could see them supporting flat-out socialism if they thought they could get a better ROI. Party of principle indeed.

        And given that the libertarian focus is primarily financials anymore (and not without just cause. The national debit is no joke), it is easy to find common cause with republicans who at least pay lip service to the idea of limited government, and any civil issues dissolve into the aether of gated communities and HOA. A million petty tyrants instead of a Goliath. But at least you can choose the flavor of coercion, so there’s that.

        And like it or not those little “l” libertarians become the spokespersons of big “L” Libertarianism to the public at large, and the public mostly recoils in horror. At least the government has to give some consideration to the marginalized while the market can freely ignore anyone who can’t pay the price of admission. There is no consent of the governed in markets.

        1. I’m sympathetic to the extent everyone has their own take on this liberty thing, and everyone is going to have a different focus as to what is important to them, but Libertarianism jumped the shark when there was serious discussion of bombing unaffiliated countries in the name of “self-defense”, and the same tone to discussions are taking place today (except that after nearly 20 of war, they will at least concede that maybe involvement in the Middle East was a bad idea).

  15. Why not run this guy, and be done with it?

    https://tinyurl.com/y5vuo4x3

    1. Yo listen up, here’s the story
      About a little guy that lives in a blue world
      And all day and all night and everything he sees is just blue
      Like him, inside and outside

  16. “northeastern moderate conservative”

    Let’s see, Hillary endorsed Hillary, she believes in compulsory cakes, she lives in New York last I heard…she’s a northeastern moderate conservative to!

  17. Yep, and if Bill Weld is a libertarian, maybe Hillary is a libertarian to. You never know.

  18. Bill Weld, the cosmotarian Harold Stassen.

  19. Weld will be less of a factor than he was as Gary Johnson’s running mate. He can be at the loser’s table with Kasich.

  20. Hahaha. Bill Weld?

    This guy is a moron.

    We all know that he was never a Libertarian but some gave Gay Jay a chance by voting for the LP ticket.

    Now Bill Weld is running (R) to try to unseat the best President in 80+ years?

    Hahaha.

    1. “…the best President in 80+ years”

      no.

      1. Name a better one?

        Seriously.

        He’s the one eyed man in the land of the blind to be sure… But he’s still better than the other shit bags we’ve had for decades. The only “bad” things he’s really been doing aren’t even bad things practically. They are opposed to purist readings of the NAP, like immigration stuff, but they’re smart decisions that will benefit most Americans. I’m not a purist, so I’m fine with most of his “bad” points even. He’s spending too much money still, but it’s not like anybody was going to change that anyway.

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  22. Bill Weld is the reason I left my presidential ballot blank in 2016.

  23. People who were going to vote Libertarian voted for some rando from Utah because of Weld’s moronic remarks. If it’s possible to have a less than zero chance to win the nomination, his chance is less than zero.

  24. I voted for Bill Weld in Massachusetts. As soon as he was out of office, he moved to New York. From there, he boasted about how lazy he had been in office, and how little he knew. He said explicitly that his Chief of Staff basically ran the Commonwealth.

    So yeah, this will work out well.

  25. Hey Welch. I think you need moar fucking links in the first two paragraphs.

  26. Weld should thank Donald Trump for splitting both parties in half. His greatest asset at this moment in history: the great Disruptor. He will leave an opening so wide – We just hope that whoever rises to step into that great opening loves this country, what is stands for, and, is truly able to MAGA…. AND the public is woke enough to choose wisely.

  27. What a TOOL.

    Weld would always have been a tool… But a lot of you people seem to not realize we’re most likely at a historical inflection point here. The USA is either going to cease to exist as anything resembling the nation it has always been, and go full tilt socialist… Or we might just barely hold it together.

    This is no time for a cowardly, weak, cucked, beta male bitch like Bill Weld. We NEED somebody with the charisma of Trump and the politics of Ron Paul… But we got Trump. He’s at least been good enough to stop everything from completely collapsing, but he isn’t enough to save it.

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  29. Weld is confusing “libertarian” with “contrarian.” We don’t need any additional orange-man-bad; does he have a day job or a wife / family that could better occupy his time?

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