Former Mass. governor takes step toward Trump primary challenge

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld (R) on Friday announced he was launching an exploratory committee for a potential 2020 White House bid, becoming the first Republican to take a significant step to challenge President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE.

Weld is looking to appeal to “never-Trump” Republicans and independents who are eager to push Trump out of the White House but do not see a Democrat as an acceptable alternative.

ADVERTISEMENT

During a campaign announcement Friday in New Hampshire, Weld outlined a number of policy differences between himself and the Trump administration while taking aim at Democrats whom he argued had abandoned the principles of fiscal responsibility. He also took aim at Trump personally, arguing that he was unfit for the presidency.

"[O]ur President is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office — which include the specific duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed — in a competent and professional matter,” Weld said at the annual Politics & Eggs breakfast. “He is simply in the wrong place.”

"It upsets me that our energies as a society are being sapped by the president's culture of divisiveness," Weld added.

"Because of the many concerns I've talked about today, I've established an exploratory committee to explore the possibility of running as a Republican in the 2020 presidential election."

The former Massachusetts governor fueled speculation of a presidential bid after he told The Boston Globe earlier this month that his planned speech in New Hampshire "will deal comprehensively with my thoughts about the 2020 election."

Also raising eyebrows was Weld’s decision earlier this month to rejoin the Republican Party after switching to the Libertarian Party in 2016. That year, he was tapped to run as former libertarian presidential candidate Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonTrump challenger: 'All bets are off' if I win New Hampshire primary Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump Progressive Democrats' turnout plans simply don't add up MORE’s running mate.

The former governor addressed those concerns Friday, admitting to being a "small-L libertarian" while no longer a member of the party.

"I've considered myself a 'small-L libertarian'" for years, Weld added. "[But] I want to not dribble around the court, I want to go right for the hoop. If you want to go one-on-one, you have to go as an 'R'," he said of running as a Republican.

Weld’s path to the Republican nomination would be a narrow one.

The GOP has largely consolidated behind Trump in recent years. At the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting in New Mexico last month, committee members voted unanimously to approve a resolution declaring the party’s “undivided support for President Donald J. Trump and his effective Presidency.”

This article was updated at 9:15 a.m.