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Weld drops out of GOP primary

Weld drops out of GOP primary
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Former Massachusetts Gov. William WeldWilliam (Bill) WeldRalph Gants, chief justice of Massachusetts supreme court, dies at 65 The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden visits Kenosha | Trump's double-voting suggestion draws fire | Facebook clamps down on election ads Biden picks up endorsements from nearly 100 Republicans MORE (R) is ending his long shot bid to defeat President TrumpDonald TrumpSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote One quick asylum fix: How Garland can help domestic violence survivors MORE in the Republican primary.

“I hereby announce that I am suspending my candidacy for President of the United States, effective immediately,” Weld said in a statement.

“I am immensely grateful to all the patriotic women and men who have stood with me during the past eleven months in our effort to bring better government to Washington, D.C.”

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Weld launched his campaign knowing that he faced nearly impossible odds in defeating Trump, who has an approval rating of about 90 percent among GOP primary voters.

The Trump campaign and Republican National Committee (RNC) combined to raise more than $463 million in 2019, compared to about $1.3 million for Weld. More than a half-dozen states also decided to cancel their primaries and the RNC took steps to ensure that a potential challenger would not be able to gain much traction.

Weld won 9 percent support in the New Hampshire primary, where he had some appeal to left-leaning independents and undeclared voters who cast ballots in the GOP primary.

But that was the high-water mark for his campaign.

Trump, who has seen huge numbers of Republicans turn out for him in the primaries, clinched the number of delegates needed to win the GOP nomination on Tuesday.

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“The Republican Party is more unified and energized than ever before and it’s because of President Trump’s leadership and clear record of accomplishment on behalf of all Americans,” said Trump campaign manager Brad ParscaleBrad ParscaleAides tried to get Trump to stop attacking McCain in hopes of clinching Arizona: report MORE. “As his response to the coronavirus has shown, and as the broad and strong economy demonstrates, the President wakes up every day putting America first in every decision he makes. And voters have responded.”

Weld had previously said he’d stay in the race through the convention in August, both to act as a protest candidate for disillusioned Republicans and to ensure the GOP had a candidate running in the unlikely case that Trump was removed from office or decided to leave before the election.

Weld, who ran on the Libertarian Party ticket with former New Mexico Gov. Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonNew Mexico lawmakers send recreational marijuana bills to governor Judge throws out murder convictions, releases men jailed for 24 years On The Trail: Making sense of Super Poll Sunday MORE in 2016, has ruled out a run as a third-party candidate in 2020.

Earlier this year, Weld told The Hill he would campaign for Joe BidenJoe BidenSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' GOP braces for wild week with momentous vote Shining a light on COINTELPRO's dangerous legacy MORE if the former vice president is the Democratic nominee.

Biden has built up a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates over Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' Democrats hit crucial stretch as filibuster fight looms GOP is consumed by Trump conspiracy theories MORE (I-Vt.), who has pulled his digital ads and rolled back his fundraising as he assesses a path forward after Tuesday's results.

Weld has said he believed he could be an effective surrogate for the Biden campaign in convincing moderate Republicans to reject Trump.

In his statement, Weld urged Trump to “observe the rule of law,” address the federal deficit, to enact a carbon tax to address climate change, strengthen U.S. relationships with military allies, issue more immigrant work visas and cut taxes for low-wage workers and families living below the poverty line.

“While I am suspending my candidacy, I want to be clear that I am not suspending my commitment to our nation and to the democratic institutions that set us apart,” he said. “America is truly the greatest country on Earth.  It’s up to each of us to ensure that it remains so.”

--Updated at 3:31 p.m.