Saturday 23 March 2019

Republican to fight against 'schoolyard bully' Trump

Challenger: Bill Weld said it is time for US citizens to take a stand. Photo: Getty
Challenger: Bill Weld said it is time for US citizens to take a stand. Photo: Getty

Annie Linskey and Davide Weigel

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld told an audience in New Hampshire yesterday that he will try to take on US President Donald Trump in the 2020 Republican presidential primary, offering the first high-profile challenge to the president's re-election effort.

Mr Weld (73) said he would seek to determine over the coming months if he can raise enough money to continue his challenge of the president. He said he would run on a traditional Republican agenda of fiscal responsibility and provide a stylistic contrast to Mr Trump.

"It is time for all people of goodwill - and our country is filled with people of goodwill - to take a stand and plant a flag," Mr Weld said during a speech yesterday in Bedford, New Hampshire

"In every country, there comes a time when patriotic men and women must stand up and speak out," he said. "In our country, this is such a time."

Mr Weld opened his remarks in the first primary state with an unflinching denunciation of the president - "he acts like a schoolyard bully" - and Republicans in Washington who "exhibit all the symptoms of Stockholm syndrome".

"We don't need six more years of the antics we have seen," he said.

Mr Weld's path to the nomination is difficult; Mr Trump remains popular with Republican voters.

In an interview this week, Mr Weld noted that even if he does not succeed, a potential side benefit, from his perspective, would be weakening Mr Trump for the general election.

Recent history has demonstrated the effect of such challenges. In 1992, president George HW Bush faced a troublesome challenge from the right from commentator Patrick J Buchanan, who embarrassed the incumbent by winning 37pc of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and fighting Mr Bush until the national convention. The weakened president lost to Democrat Bill Clinton.

Similarly, former president Gerald Ford had to fend off a Republican challenge from Ronald Reagan in 1976 before losing in the general election to Democrat Jimmy Carter.

Mr Weld was elected governor of Massachusetts as a Republican twice, first in 1990.

He ran his first campaign as a reformer who supported gay rights and abortion rights.

He was an erudite and quirky governor; at one news conference, held so he could sign a water-quality bill into law, he jumped into the Charles River wearing long pants and a T-shirt.

Mr Weld left the Republican Party in 2016 to join former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson on the Libertarian Party ticket.

He announced this month that he was switching back to the Republican Party.

Mr Weld traces his roots in the country back to the 1600s when an ancestor, Joseph Weld, arrived in Boston.

He graduated from Harvard College and earned a law degree from Harvard University.

He has five children from his first marriage, which ended in divorce.

His second wife, Leslie Marshall, is a novelist and magazine writer.

Irish Independent

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