Ryan Lau | @agorisms
Friday morning, Bill Weld officially announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee. The former governor of Massachusetts is looking to challenge President Trump in the primary. In late January, he declared that he would be considering a run. Not long before, he switched his party affiliation from Libertarian to Republican.
Weld’s move marks a very pivotal moment in the Republican primary. At this point, the anti-Trump wing of the party has two decisions. They can begin to rally around Weld, who breaks dramatically from the often hawkish crowd. Alternatively, they can line up a third candidate to run. Doing this, though, may split the anti-Trump vote and guarantee a second nomination for the incumbent president.
What Would Weld Do?
It appears that Bill Weld is planning to run on principles similar to his and Gary Johnson’s from the 2016 election; he vouches for tax cuts, spending cuts, and privatization of many non-essential government agencies. But he also is a long-standing opponent of excessive military intervention and the drug war. Moreover, Weld has long been a proponent of gay rights and legal abortion.
Weld breaks from President Trump on a number of his biggest issues. He opposes the construction of a border wall and wants to make the immigration process easier. Furthermore, he has voiced clear support for free trade, standing in direct opposition to the president’s tariffs. Despite this, they overlap on some other issues, including criminal justice reform and a desire to end the federal criminalization of marijuana.
Is Bill Weld Viable?
It is not unheard of for an incumbent president to lose in their second-term primary. However, it has not happened in over a hundred years, so Weld would face an uphill battle if he declares a race. On the other hand, President Trump’s approval rating is a measly 42%, so Republicans concerned about Trump’s electability may opt for the candidate who has more appeal to both sides.
It’s also worth noting that Weld may be able to secure a portion of 2016’s Libertarian voters. As their vice-presidential nominee, he secured over 3% of the vote in the general election. The Libertarian Party is rife with division, but even a portion of this demographic could prove helpful in a general election.
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