Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said Sunday he is exploring a run against President Donald Trump for the 2020 GOP nomination in part because Republican leaders would rather avoid Trump being held accountable for his behavior in office ― and that would be bad for the nation.
“I think the Republicans in Washington want to have no election, basically,” Weld said on ABC’s “This Week.” I don’t think that would be very good for the country, and I have a lot of views of how the president is acting in office,”
Weld, 73, ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016. On Friday, he became the first Republican to take a serious step toward challenging Trump’s renomination for the White House by announcing a presidential exploratory committee.
“I don’t think he knows how to act,” Weld said of Trump. “He thinks he has to humiliate whoever he’s dealing with or else he’s half a man.”
Criticizing Trump for declaring a national emergency on border security, Weld said, “Congress thought they had a deal” with the administration on the issue. But, Weld added, “He says, ‘Oh, you think you have a deal? I’m going to show you a deal. I’m going to show you who’s boss.’ It’s just no way to run a railroad.”
Weld said he believed his path forward in taking on Trump ― who polls show enjoys close to unanimous support among Republican voters ― hinged on drawing awareness to the administration’s “reckless” spending.
Though financial prudence traditionally has been a core GOP principle, the federal budget deficit continued to rise in the first quarter of fiscal 2019 and is on pace to top $1 trillion for the year. The national debt also hit $22 trillion for first time ever last week.
Weld, who server as governor from 1991-97, said he also would focus his campaign on education and the potentially negative impact of artificial intelligence and robotics on the workforce.
“That’s the sort of thing they’re not paying attention to in Washington, because they’re so busy with divisiveness and trying to make everyone feel awful,” he said.
Weld’s announcement in New Hampshire of his exploratory committee drew criticism from the chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, Jim Lyons. He noted that aside from Weld’s vice presidential bid as a Libertarian, the former governor endorsed Democrat Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in the 2008 White House race.
“After abandoning Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians, Weld demands that faithful Republicans consider him as their standard-bearer. Even Benedict Arnold switched allegiances less often!” Lyons said in a statement.
Weld dismissed such criticisms in his Sunday comments. He claimed that Republicans like Lyons are “all under pressure and orders from Washington” to ensure Trump is nominated “without anyone having to think or analyze issues.”
“I think it’s not what the country needs, to put it mildly,” he said.