Why Bill Weld Is Really Running Against Trump – The Atlantic

On Thursday, tucked inside a basement college classroom in Durham, New Hampshire, that could have doubled as a bunker, Weld described the stakes of his campaign. His expectations were the floor, he told me, leaning back and opening a bag of popcorn. If he got even a semblance of support, it meant that Republicansand independents, who are able to vote in the states primarywere receptive to someone other than Trump. If Trumps command of the Republican Party is complete, Weld at least hopes to be the firewall preventing Trumpism from spreading beyond the GOP.

Read: Breakfast with Bill Weld

Ive always been on the libertarian edge of the Republican Party, he said. But I certainly dont feel a member of this party as its represented in Washington, D.C., right now. There should be no illusions as to whether Weld will win the nomination. (He almost certainly wont.) The president boasts a 94 percent approval rating among Republicans, according to the latest Gallup poll. But being an underdog has its benefits. Theres nothing for me to be fearful about, Weld said.

Among independents, Trump has a 42 percent approval rating. Weld believes that he can persuade those independents to stick with him in several of the open primariesand semi-open primaries, such as New Hampshireswith what he calls the whole truth about Trump: that the president is an outrageous racist who is unqualified for office. While Pat Buchananesque finishes are out of reachthe political pundit won 37 percent of the New Hampshireprimary vote in 1992 against the incumbent, George H. W. Bushan insurgent influence campaign may not be.

Never Trumpism might be more of a capillary than a vein, Weld believes, but its a vital one. People ask me, you know, Why are you in this? he said.I mean, my goodness, were looking at a president who thinks that he doesnt have to listen to anybody and hes unwilling to read anything. He added, Thats dangerous for the United States.

Thirty minutes before Weld and I spoke, he was upstairs sitting in an audience, searching for a microphone to offer more of a comment than a question to Deval Patrick, also a former governor of Massachusetts, who was speaking at a forum on higher education. Weld had called Patrick the day after Patrick announced his run for the presidency to let him know that he admired what he was doing. Then, together, they lauded another former Massachusetts governor for his vote to impeach the president. We can welcome Governor [Mitt] Romney to the good guys club this time, Weld joked. (Patrick dropped out of the race this morning after failing to gain traction in Iowa and New Hampshire.)

I asked Weld what it would mean if hes actually able to sway some Republican voters. It means that there is an appetite for an alternative to Trump, he said. Then, I asked, what if hes not successful? Well, he said, it means that Republicans are not willing to listen to someone whos pointing out that Emperor Trump doesnt have a nice new fancy set of clothes on.

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Why Bill Weld Is Really Running Against Trump - The Atlantic

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