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Fmr. Gov. Bill Weld: 7 things you need to know about the Republican challenging President Donald Trump

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By Roey Hadar

Gwen Ifill Fellow

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld became the first Republican to officially launch a challenge to President Donald Trump in a bid to unseat the president in the Republican primaries.

Weld, a 73-year-old Republican known for his moderate policy stances, spent a few years in the Libertarian Party, but returned to the GOP before his April 15 announcement that he’ll be running for president in 2020.

Here are seven things you need to know about Weld:

  • He served two terms as governor of Massachusetts. A Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, Weld thrived in the commonwealth thanks to his ability to balance liberal social stances and pro-business economic policies. As governor, Weld expanded abortion access, broadened LGBTQ rights by allowing for the recognition of same-sex partnerships and presided over Medicaid expansion. He leaned into his pragmatic record in his 2020 campaign, pledging to have a “bipartisan Cabinet” in his presidency.
  • Weld was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee in 2016. He ran alongside presidential nominee Gary Johnson, but was perhaps most notable for effectively endorsing Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton when he did an interview and said he was “vouching for” her. Johnson and Weld won three percent of the national vote.
  • President Bill Clinton tried to appoint Weld as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico in 1997, but Republicans blocked the nomination. Despite Weld himself being a Republican, Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) refused to hold a hearing on Weld’s nomination because he disagreed with Weld’s stances on social issues.
  • He prioritizes maintaining fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget. He cut spending as Governor of Massachusetts and has called on the Republican Party to move back toward fiscal conservative principles in light of growing budget deficits in the Trump administration.
  • Weld has criticized President Trump for his demeanor and foreign policy. Weld has said the president “goes out of his way to court despots and autocrats” and is acting irresponsibly in his handling of climate change. In announcing his campaign, he said that six more years of a Trump presidency would be a “national tragedy” and that he launched his bid out of “fear for the republic.”
  • He has also defended Robert Mueller from the president’s criticism and says the president has shown a complete “disregard for the rule of law.” He has called Mueller “the straightest guy I’ve ever met.” Weld worked with and was the boss of Mueller in the 1980s when Weld was U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts and Mueller worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. Weld was recommended for the U.S. attorney post by then-associate attorney general and current lawyer to President Trump Rudy Giuliani.
  • Coming from a long line of Massachusetts residents, Weld attended Harvard and was the 19th person in his family to do so. He attended the school for his undergraduate and law degrees and also has a master’s from Oxford. Weld can trace his ancestry to some of the earliest settlers of Massachusetts and said he can trace his family roots back to Mayflower-era Massachusetts.