Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld was the featured guest at a campaign fundraiser held yesterday by Bill Kristol, former editor of the Weekly Standard and co-founder of The Bulwark.
Weld is the highest-profile Republican currently running as a primary opponent to President Donald Trump. He has a successful history as a Governor, managing to press through some Republican policy in a highly Democrat-leaning state. He also has a low level of national name recognition due to his VP run alongside Gary Johnson on the Libertarian ticket, where Weld was recognized as often being able to respond to questions faster and with greater specificity than the Presidential candidate.
Unlike the current President, he’s written the books that are attributed to him, from mysteries like Mackerel by Moonlight and Big Ugly to traditional novels like Stillwater to political theory works like Building a North American Community, a work focused on deep foreign policy issues.
Weld currently faces great impediments in his path to the Presidency. The most obvious is the current President, Donald Trump. Republican pundits and politicians have lined up firmly behind the President and have spent two years claiming victories and defending failures. By doing so, they have solidified much of the base in favor of Trump while recasting things like increasing federal spending, attacking the free market, abandoning conventional morality and following the law as “nuanced”… they still claim to support all of these things, but in a fashion which requires abandoning the strict interpretation of them.
Also in his way are the Democrats, who are eager to use the “binary argument” to say that the only viable alternative to Trump is the eventual winner of the Democrat primary. Many Democrat activists recognize that widespread opposition to Trump presents their best chance to get, as President, someone who otherwise might be unelectable.
With these two groups working to keep Weld sidelined, his effort to run a primary campaign against Trump will face strong headwinds. It is going to depend on occasional television appearances and, especially, internet campaigning; Facebook, Youtube and the like remain very cost-effective for national campaigns, as memes and videos can be designed to reach thousands of potential voters.
The help of Kristol and other prominent “old school” Republicans may prove very helpful. A small core remains of people who hold to the pre-Trump, “Reagan/Coolidge/Buckley” principles of the Republican party. Should they mobilize for Weld, he may be able to at least publicly present his argument for the views the party once held.