- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who is mounting a primary challenge to President Trump, on Tuesday said it’s Mr. Trump who’s the “RINO,” and that if Mr. Weld can win the New Hampshire primary “all bets are off” next year.

“I think it’s Mr. Trump who’s the ‘Republican in name only,’” Mr. Weld said on CNN’s “New Day.” “He’s not an economic conservative — I cut taxes 21 times, but I also cut spending.”

“I care about the environment — historically, the Republican Party cared about the environment,” he continued. “I’m not going to deny that it would be a bad thing if the polar ice cap melted…it’s scientific fact that if we keep going up two degrees every year, by the time we get to 2040, 2050, that polar ice cap is gone and that’s a fact.”

Mr. Weld had been asked to respond to the contention that he’s not representative of the current party, which overwhelmingly supports the president. Mr. Trump had an 88% job approval rating among Republicans, according to a recent Fox News poll.

“I have said, and I mean it, that I would never support Donald Trump for president of the United States knowing what we now know,” said Mr. Weld, who was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2016.

Despite the overwhelming odds against challenging an incumbent president in a primary, Mr. Weld said he has his sights set on the early state of New Hampshire.

“My aim is to win the New Hampshire primary, and if that happens I think all bets are off,” he said. “It’s true that the five presidents running for reelection who had a primary challenge all lost or dropped out. They didn’t lose the primary, but they all lost for reelection.”

“So history is not on Mr. Trump’s side, but I think this is doable based on what I hear on the ground in New Hampshire. I’m talking to many more voters than Mr. Trump is up there.”

Former Rep. Mark Sanford, who is weighing his own primary challenge to the president, said this week he’d likely support Mr. Trump over a Democrat in 2020 if it came down to that. Mr. Sanford is aiming to decide whether to jump into the race by Labor Day.

“With all due respect to Bernie Sanders, his political ideology is even further afield than Donald Trump’s from me because I’m a conservative Republican,” the South Carolina Republican said on CNN. “Last time I checked, the progressive wing of the party seems to be leading the charge. And so that’s where I am.”

Mr. Sanford said there’s still appetite among Republicans for a primary challenge to Mr. Trump.

“I think that there is a market out there,” he said.

But Mr. Trump’s campaign has previously said he’s prepared to dispatch any and all challengers, and the president has trained much of his political fire on candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“The president will dominate whomever has the wrong-headed idea to challenge him in whatever contest is put in front of him,” Trump campaign spokeswoman Sarah Matthews recently told The Washington Times.

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