Former Massachusetts Gov. William WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldVermont governor, running for reelection, won’t campaign or raise money The Hill’s Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid Libertarians view Amash as potential 2020 game changer for party MORE, fresh off launching his own GOP primary challenge against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE this week, says he has encouraged other Republicans to launch similar bids to take on Trump in 2020.
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Weld told Fox News on Tuesday that he has encouraged former Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to also throw their hats into the ring. Both candidates have mulled launching GOP presidential bids, pointing to potential support from moderate Republicans disaffected with the Trump White House.
During his appearance on Fox, Weld argued that having more candidates in the GOP race could help the party flesh out its policy platforms ahead of the general election.
“I think it’s fair to say that both of them are looking at the situation and if the politics change somewhat, I think either or both of them might be interested. And I think I indicated to each of them that that would be no skin off my teeth,” he said.
“That would be a broader conversation, it might be harder for the president to duck debates if there were two or three other candidates in the race, so I’ve been encouraging the both of those people. We all want the same thing, which is an airing of the issues,” he said.
“I think it might even be good for the president to be put through his paces as it were and have to account for, answer for his positions. Too often, I think, they amount to one word: hoax, for climate change, wall, for immigration. Let’s flesh that out a little bit.”
Kasich, a Midwest moderate who unsuccessfully ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, has repeatedly aired his grievances against Trump but recognized in December that he “probably couldn’t win” a primary challenge against the sitting president, who retains a strong grip over the GOP base.
Hogan, another moderate, expressed concerns in February that Trump, whose national approval ratings remain stuck in the low-mid 40s, could lose the general election to a Democrat.
Though Weld, the 2016 Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate, slammed Trump as not being conservative enough on issues such as government spending and foreign policy, he focused much of his ire on the president’s character as an issue heading into the 2020 race.
“I think the president’s mean spiritedness would mean that I could not endorse him for the presidency. I’m not saying I would endorse the Democrat, I might sit it out as many people did in 2016,” he said.