- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 1, 2019

Ask anyone standing outside of a grocery store who they know is running for president against Donald Trump in 2020 and you’ll probably hear all kinds of answers. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, for sure. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, probably. Maybe even Marianne Williamson.  

One name nobody would utter: Bill Weld

The former Massachusetts Republican governor, William “Bill” Weld, who in 2016 was the Libertarian Party vice presidential pick attached to perennial candidate, former New Mexico Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, is the only self-declared Republican challenger to President Trump this cycle. Republican Weld transitioned to the Libertarian Party (saying he would be a “Libertarian for life”), received less than 3 percent of the popular vote in 2016 (despite running against two of the most unpopular nominees in our nation’s history), and is now back and attempting to take the Republican nomination from a popular Republican incumbent.

Somewhere oddly stuck in the middle of the Pat Buchanan-esque moral crusaders and the young charm of Bill Clinton’s reform-oriented new age Democrats, Mr. Weld was a hardliner on fiscal conservatism and was otherwise proud to be considered socially progressive. That beautiful libertarian minute in history quickly died as Gov. Weld’s governing turned out to be a complete 180 of his self-proclaimed libertarian ideology. Shikha Dalmia, a senior policy analyst at the Reason Foundation, noted in a 2016 article that as governor of Massachusetts, he “let state spending run up on his watch and turned into a law-and-order candidate who was squishy on gun rights and easy on the use of eminent domain. Libertarians rightfully soured on him.”

Mr. Weld was quiet after finishing his final term as governor in 1997 but in 2006 he blipped back on the radar when he attempted to run for governor of New York, confusing Republican donors (and, presumably, Massachusetts residents) and party hands alike as attempted to use the Republican Party of New York to jumpstart a political comeback. He also attempted to build an awkward alliance with the Libertarian Party of New York in order to appear on both parties’ ballot lines that election cycle. After failing to garner enough support at the state Republican Party convention, he dropped out of the race and went off the radar once again.

In 2008, Mr. Weld surprised many pundits and party loyalists when he endorsed Barack Obama for president instead of Republican nominee John McCain. He ran back to the Republican camp again to endorse Mitt Romney during the Republican primaries in 2012. It’s worth noting that Gary Johnson also competed against Mr. Romney in the same primary for a limited period of time and eventually made it onto the general election ballot in all 50 states as the Libertarian presidential nominee. Mr. Weld didn’t endorse Gary Johnson in the general election either.

Four years later, Mr. Johnson recruited Mr. Weld to join his 2016 campaign as his running mate on what many speculated was the Libertarian “dream ticket,” which was so controversial amongst card-carrying Libertarians that at the party’s national convention in Florida that year, Bill Weld nearly lost his guaranteed nomination to virtually unknown candidate Larry Sharpe from New York by only a handful of delegate’s votes.

The Johnson-Weld ticket was virtually shot at the knees by their inability to participate in the televised debates with Mr. Trump and Hillary Clinton. Their reputation as two popular Republican governors who ran in blue states was quickly forgotten when Mr. Johnson’s infamous “Aleppo moment” caused many potential supporters to question the seriousness of the two statesmen from another era. Fearing ultimately that Donald Trump would take the White House from his former Watergate colleague, he went on “The Rachel Maddow Show” nights before the general election and gave a strange, soft-core endorsement of Hillary Clinton instead of making a last-minute case for his own ticket.

Now, after spending the last several years awkwardly trying to rekindle his broken relationship with the Libertarians, Mr. Weld has seemingly given up on that and is now running a rebound campaign attempting to ignite a legitimate primary challenge against Mr. Trump. He is as journalist Matt Welch described, running a campaign based on the goals of “eviscerate Trump, champion 1990s policies, stammer about party loyalty” and not much else. Apart from screeching “raging racist” at the president and getting into scuffles with Ronna Romney McDaniel, Mr. Weld’s attempt at capturing the attention of the nation’s Republican electorate is already a dead-end dream.

Despite what political intellectuals will say about President Trump’s ideology, it’s not as complicated to understand as some make it sound. The president sends the message that he loves America, supports cops, soldiers, blue collar workers, and will do anything to keep his base happy. It doesn’t need to make sense all the time, it just needs to be consistent. 

Bill Weld on the other hand doesn’t have that consistency. 

He wanders every which way; he’s an ideological libertarian who wants to give free college to workers who lose their jobs to automation, he’s a Republican who supports abortion. He’s not a libertarian, he’s just not anything. He has proven over three decades in the public square as an elected official and as a candidate, that he will say and do anything to keep himself relevant. And that’s a recipe for irrelevance. 

• Remso W. Martinez is social media coordinator at The Washington Times. You can follow him on Twitter at @HeyRemso.

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