William Weld is a former two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts and the Libertarian Party’s 2016 vice-presidential nominee. He’s also an attorney, a writer — his 2002 satire of Washington politics is titled “The Big Ugly” — and an unapologetic Grateful Dead fan; when the band’s leader Jerry Garcia died Weld called it “a loss both to my generation and my children’s.”
Weld has cut a unique, unpredictable path through U.S. politics, suffering his fair share of political losses along the way. Weld served as a legal counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment inquiry of President Richard Nixon, and recently grabbed headlines for joining the board of directors for a marijuana corporation.
On Friday, Weld announced that he had formed an exploratory committee to run for president as a Republican in 2020, becoming the first person to signal plans to mount a primary challenge against President Donald Trump. Here is where Weld stands on key issues in the 2020 election.
Economy and government: Supports cutting taxes and reigning in spending. Opposes Trump’s tariffs.
A fiscal conservative, as Massachusetts’ governor Weld reigned in spending, cut taxes some 15 times, and vetoed minimum wage hikes. He’s a free trader who said in 2016 that candidate Donald Trump’s “huge unilateral tariffs” would damage the world economy.
Weld promised to “blow up” unnecessary state agencies after taking office as governor in 1991. As a Libertarian candidate in 2016, he pledged to cut the federal government by 20 percent to reduce waste.
Social Issues: Supports gay marriage, LGBT rights, and abortion.
Weld publicly fought to remove anti-abortion language from the Republican Party platform in the 1990s, to the dismay of social conservatives. He signed the amicus brief to overturn California’s Prop 8, which outlawed gay marriage, but LGBT rights advocates say he’s shifted his stance on gay marriage in the past.
Weld’s liberal stance on social issues often earned him the ire of the GOP, and helped block his nomination to be ambassador of Mexico under President Bill Clinton. The late North Carolina Republican senator and vocal segregationist Jesse Helms once accused Weld of perpetuating a “militant homosexual agenda.”
Health care: Supports increased Medicaid access.
Before Medicaid expansion was available to states, Weld petitioned the federal government as governor for additional Medicaid funding for Massachusetts. He then relaxed the state’s Medicaid requirements, partly to increase health care access but also to deal with a budget crunch.
Foreign policy: Supports non-nuclear proliferation efforts. Wants closer ties with Canada and Mexico.
On the 2016 campaign trail, Weld called nuclear proliferation “the number one threat to the security of the world.” Weld is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and, has called for the U.S. to form closer ties with Mexico and Canada in order to address security and economic challenges.
Immigration and border security: Opposes Trump’s deportation policies. Supports some form of legal status for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
In 2016, Weld was highly critical of Trump’s rhetoric around immigration, and twice compared then-candidate Trump’s proposals to deport Mexican and Central American immigrants to the Nazi period in Germany. Weld has also called for the federal government to issue more H1B work visas, calling it an economic imperative for the U.S. workforce to stay globally and economically competitive.