Former Mass. Gov. Bill Weld speaks at Reuters Newsmakers event in N.Y. on April 10, 2006.
Photo by Keith Bedford/Reuters

Bill Weld’s plans for the future raise eyebrows

Updated
When Tim Kaine and Mike Pence met for the vice presidential debate last night, they weren’t joined by Libertarian William Weld, whose ticket doesn’t enjoy enough public support to qualify for the event. But that doesn’t mean Weld’s future is unimportant in politics right now.

About a month ago, journalist Carl Bernstein suggested Weld, a former Republican governor who only recently committed to the Libertarians, could bow out of his bid for national office and throw his support to Hillary Clinton’s ticket. Both Weld and Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson quickly dismissed the rumor as nonsense.

A month later, Bill Weld is still a vice presidential candidate, but he told the Boston Globe yesterday that his focus is poised to change a bit.
The Libertarian vice presidential candidate, William F. Weld, said Tuesday that he plans to focus exclusively on blasting Donald Trump over the next five weeks, a strategic pivot aimed at denying Trump the White House and giving himself a key role in helping to rebuild the GOP.

Weld’s comments in a Globe interview mark a major shift in his mission since he pledged at the Libertarian convention in May that he would remain a Libertarian for life and would do all he could to help elect his running mate, Gary Johnson, the former Republican governor of New Mexico.
Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts, told the Globe “it would be fun to participate” in an effort to “come up with a new playbook” for the Republican Party after the 2016 elections.

That doesn’t sound like someone who intends to remain with the Libertarian Party for the long haul.

Indeed, Weld also told the Globe he “not going to drop [Libertarians] this year,” which only raises further questions about what he intends to do after this year.

While Gary Johnson tends to treat the major-party nominees as equally objectionable, his running mate is clearly adopting a very different posture. From the Globe report:
Weld … said he is focusing on Trump because, while he disagrees with Hillary Clinton on fiscal and military issues, Trump’s agenda is so objectionable it’s “in a class by itself.”

“I think Mr. Trump’s proposals in the foreign policy area, including nuclear proliferation, tariffs, and free trade, would be so hurtful, domestically and in the world, that he has my full attention,” Weld said.
This comes a week after Weld told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd, “I’m not sure anybody is more qualified than Hillary Clinton to be president of the United States.”

It’s likely loyal Libertarians won’t be pleased with Weld’s perspective, though there is a broader context to all of this. When Gary Johnson reached out to Weld about running on his party’s ticket, Weld probably saw the former governor as someone who was serious about a credible national campaign.

It’s become clear lately, however, that Johnson isn’t quite approaching the 2016 race with the determination and seriousness of purpose Weld had in mind. That, coupled with the prospect of a possible Trump victory, may have caused Weld to reconsider the circumstances.

Update: Weld wrote a three-paragraph piece on Facebook, responding to the Globe’s article. It concluded, “Let there be no doubt. I am the Libertarian nominee for Vice-President, proudly running with Gov. Gary Johnson, and both Gary and I will be running hard and making our case right up until the polls close on November 8. Our ambition is to serve our country.”

Bill Weld's plans for the future raise eyebrows

Updated