Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld announced Monday that he will mount a Republican primary challenge against incumbent Donald Trump.
Weld, who served as governor of the Bay State from 1991 to 1997, announced earlier this year that he’d formed an exploratory committee for a possible presidential run but waited until Monday to make his candidacy official in a statement.
“Ours is a nation built on courage, resilience, and independence. In these times of great political strife, when both major parties are entrenched in their ‘win at all cost’ battles, the voices of the American people are being ignored and our nation is suffering,” Weld said in the statement. “It is time for patriotic men and women across our great nation to stand and plant a flag. It is time to return to the principles of Lincoln – equality, dignity, and opportunity for all. There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”
Prior to his two terms as the state’s governor, Weld was appointed to serve as the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
In a video posted to his campaign website, Weld claimed credit for helping to revitalize the Massachusetts economy by disrupting decades of unified Democratic control, cutting taxes and cracking down on crime. He juxtaposed his record as U.S. attorney and governor with that of President Trump, whose character he impugned through a montage of crass statements Trump made during and prior to the 2016 presidential campaign.
Weld’s first foray into national politics came in that race, when he served as libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson’s running mate. Johnson and Weld ended up capturing just 3.6 percent of the popular vote after a devastating gaffe in which Johnson admitted he was not aware of the existence of the Syrian city of Aleppo, where intense sectarian fighting was then taking place.
A number of other prominent Republicans, including former Ohio governor John Kasich and Maryland governor Larry Hogan, have reportedly considered mounting primary challenges against Trump, but Weld is the first Republican challenger to officially enter the race.