When former Massachusetts governor and 2016 Libertarian vice presidential nominee William Weld formed an exploratory committee to challenge Donald Trump’s renomination in February of 2019, I was a bit annoyed at the grave attention the proto-candidacy received in the mainstream media:
Aside from being a has-been and all (he last held public office in 1997), Weld is far, far out of step with the former party he now says he wants to lead. Even if said party was not firmly in the grip of a president whom Weld basically described as a Nazi in 2016 (“I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear [Trump’s immigration plan”]), Weld as GOP leader would make about as much sense as Joe Lieberman leaving his comfortable lobbying haunts to take charge of the Democrats.
Sure, there are some NeverTrump Republicans left, though they are far less numerous in the GOP electorate than in the media commentariat. But even if they still ran the Republican Party, the pro-choice, pro-gay-rights, pro-impeachment Weld would have hardly been their first, second, third or twenty-fifth choice to challenge the incumbent. So he was never the representative of any living Republican tradition that might survive the 45th president, and was thus an unserious candidate.
He persisted, though, and managed to snag a single delegate in Iowa this year, which probably irritated POTUS. Weld dropped out the day after Trump formally won a majority of the delegates for the 2020 nomination (claiming 1,330, with 1,276 needed for victory). But he outlasted fellow-challengers Mark Sanford and Joe Walsh, both of whom trailed Weld by that single delegate he won. And like them, he expects vindication by history, as the New York Times notes:
Lucy Caldwell, who served as an adviser to Mr. Walsh, said, “There’s no doubt in my mind that Bill Weld, Joe Walsh and Mark Sanford will be remembered as having been on the right side of history when so few Republicans were.”
With that and a few bucks, you used to be able to buy a cup of coffee from a now-unemployed barista–that and a single delegate to a Republican National Convention that may or may not be held this summer.