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Bill Weld may not beat Trump in the primaries but could derail his presidential campaign if history is anything to go by

The former Massachusetts Governor is the first Republican to announce he will challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential race.
UPDATED MAR 16, 2020
Bill Weld (Source : Getty Images)
Bill Weld (Source : Getty Images)

William Weld, a former two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts and the Libertarian Party’s 2016 vice-presidential nominee, recently became the first Republican to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 GOP primaries.

An accomplished attorney at the Mintz Levin law firm and an ardent fan of the band Grateful Dead, Weld also wrote a book in 2002 titled 'The Big Ugly' - a satire on Washington politics.

While Weld has suffered a fair share of losses in his political career, he has served in key positions both in the public as well as the private sector. The career GOP politician was appointed as a legal counsel to the US House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon. What's more? He became a favorite among millennials after he joined the board of directors for a marijuana corporation.

Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld talks to a crowd of supporters at a rally on August 6, 2015, in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Getty)

In the past, primary challenges have cost incumbent presidents the general election, including George HW Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

Having said that, here are some of Weld's stances on key issues in the run-up to the 2020 election:

When it comes to the nation's economy, Weld supports tax cuts and regulating government spending. During his term as the governor of Massachusetts, the fiscal conservative reigned in spending and cut taxes almost 15 times. However, he vetoed minimum wage hikes.

Being a free trader, Weld criticized Trump's "huge unilateral tariffs" and said they had the potential to damage the world economy.

While contesting on a Republican Party platform in the 1990s, Weld was fiercely criticized by social conservatives after he fought to remove anti-abortion language from the discourse. Also, while he signed the amicus brief to overturn California’s Prop 8, which made gay marriage illegal, several LGBT rights advocates claim he cannot be trusted after he has allegedly shifted his stance on gay marriage in the past.

At the same time, Weld often drew ire of the GOP due to his liberal stance on social issues, leading him to lose his nomination for the Ambassador to Mexico under the Clinton administration.

William Weld and his wife Lesley Marshall attend the Focus Features and Loreal premiere of 'Scoop' at the Museum of Modern Art July 26, 2006, in New York City. (Getty)

Coming to healthcare, Weld petitioned the federal government for additional Medicaid funding for Massachusetts as governor before relaxing the state's Medicaid requirements while dealing with a budget crunch.

On abortion rights, the New York native has always fought to protect them. In 1991, he introduced a bill to make it easier to get an abortion in Massachusetts.

That said, Weld gained popularity among millennials for one major reason - He has supported legalization of medical marijuana since 1992 and currently sits on the board of directors of Acreage Holdings, a company looking to roll back federal regulations on cannabis.


During the 2016 race, Weld called nuclear proliferation “the number one threat to the security of the world.” In order to address security and economic challenges with respect to foreign policy, the Harvard graduate has called for the US to form closer ties with Mexico and Canada in the capacity of his position on the Council on Foreign Relations.

Finally, speaking of immigration and border security, Weld has been overtly critical of President Trump's rhetoric around undocumented immigrants, comparing his proposals to deport illegal Mexican and Central American immigrants to Nazi Germany. The 2020 candidate has previously called for the government to issue more H1B work visas so that the US workforce can stay competitive on the global and economic front.

One of the key criticisms against Weld is his flip-flopping party loyalty. In 2008, he endorsed Barack Obama over John McCain for president. However, the following general election in 2012 saw him switch his endorsement to Mitt Romney over Obama. 

U.S. President Donald Trump gestures after speaking during the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual leadership meeting at The Venetian Las Vegas on April 6, 2019, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Getty)

In conclusion, President Trump's popularity among conservatives will almost certainly overshadow Weld's patrician Republicanism. According to a Fox News poll, over 87% of Republicans support the incumbent commander-in-chief. Meanwhile, FiveThirtyEight has called Weld "one of the weakest candidates that anti-Trump Republicans could put up in a national campaign," considering the national GOP has considerably shifted to the right in recent years.