Bill Weld, the Harvard-educated former Massachusetts governor whose name appeared next to presidential candidate Gary Johnson's on the Libertarian ticket in 2016, officially announced on Monday that he is going to challenge President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020. And while he's calling for a return to "principles" and "dignity," Weld clearly isn't shy about using some of Trump's most-maligned past comments against him.
"It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag," Weld said in a statement announcing his candidacy Monday. "It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln – equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight."
In a three-minute video announcing his candidacy released Monday, Weld highlighted some widely criticized comments by Trump, including Trump saying then-Sen. John McCain was not a war hero, his infamous "grab them by the p***y" comments caught in the "Access Hollywood" tape and President Trump's initial response to the Charlottesville, VA tragedy in which he said there were "very fine people on both sides" in the protests and counter-protests over Confederate monuments that erupted into violence, ending in the death of a peaceful liberal protester.
The announcement video also touts Weld's record on helping to fight corruption, particularly Democrat corruption in Massachusetts, as well as his connection to President Ronald Reagan, who appointed him to be a "crime-fighting" U.S. attorney. Among his achievements presented in the video are busting politicians for fraud and saving millions in tax-dollars in the process. His platform when he ran for governor as a Republican in the "one party" Democrat-controlled state: "Guts. Integrity. Independence." After his "historic victory," Weld "cut taxes 21 times," "balanced the budget," "reformed welfare," and went on to win re-election "by the widest margin ever" in the state's history, the video states.
"Today we need Bill Weld more than ever because America deserves better," the video states before transitioning to Trump's various controversial comments.
As Axios notes, Weld holds generally liberal views when it comes to social issues, including supporting abortion, legalized marijuana, and same-sex marriage. He also generally agrees with the Left's view of climate change, though he also holds conservative and libertarian economic views. His various positions have aligned him as often with Democrats as Republicans in recent elections. In 2008, Weld backed Barack Obama over John McCain but Mitt Romney over Obama four years later. In 2016, Weld joined Johnson to represent the Libertarian Party.
So how much of a shot does a primary challenger have of unseating an incumbent? Almost zero, though tight primary races have in the past damaged an incumbent's chances for re-election. Trump, however, continues to perform extremely well in polls among Republicans, with poll after poll finding that around 9 in 10 Republicans approve of the job he's doing. Gallup's presidential tracking poll has found Trump ranging from 81 to 91% among Republicans for over a year, and in the last three months ranging from 88 to 90%