Weld drops out of GOP primary

Weld drops out of GOP primary
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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 (R) is ending his long shot bid to defeat President TrumpDonald John Trump Trump responds to calls to tear down monuments with creation of 'National Garden' of statues Trump: Children are taught in school to 'hate their own country' Trump accuses those tearing down statues of wanting to 'overthrow the American Revolution' 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 ParscaleBradley (Brad) James ParscaleMORE. “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 JohnsonWhere Biden, Trump stand in key swing states Amash decides against Libertarian campaign for president The Hill's Campaign Report: Amash moves toward Libertarian presidential bid 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 BidenCan Republicans handle the aftermath of Donald Trump? Biden seeks to supplant Trump in Georgia Trump's Mount Rushmore stunt will backfire MORE if the former vice president is the Democratic nominee.

Biden has built up a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates over Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocratic senator will introduce bill mandating social distancing on flights after flying on packed flight Neil Young opposes use of his music at Trump Mt Rushmore event: 'I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux' Democratic strategist Andrew Feldman says Biden is moving left 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.