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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 John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven 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 JohnsonBiden leads newspaper endorsements — just like Clinton New Hampshire Union Leader endorses Biden Poll: Biden notches 7-point lead ahead of Trump in New Hampshire 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 BidenGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska Jeff Daniels narrates new Biden campaign ad for Michigan MORE if the former vice president is the Democratic nominee.

Biden has built up a nearly insurmountable lead in delegates over Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief says congressional progressives looking to become stronger force in 2021 Obama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom 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.