By Carlo Versano and Justin Chermol
Bill Weld has not held public office since the 1990s. But the former Massachusetts governor is getting closer to mounting a challenge to President Trump ー as a Republican ー for the highest office in the land, he told Cheddar at South by Southwest Monday.
"We can't go on pretending the president is normal. He's not," Weld said, in some of his most pointed comments yet about a potential primary challenge to the president.
"I'm watching what's going on in Washington. I think it's pretty hopeless," he said. "If it doesn't get better, I'm going to run."
Weld, 73, is a former two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts who gained a reputation as a socially liberal moderate while in office. Since then, he's renounced the GOP, endorsed both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, ran as Gary Johnson's running mate on the libertarian ticket in 2016, and then re-joined the Republican Party before announcing he was exploring the option of challenging the incumbent president. He expects to make a final decision about whether to run sometime in April, he told Cheddar.
Weld's social stances have little in common with the current GOP platform. While Governor of Massachusetts, he supported abortion rights and recognized domestic partnership rights for LBGT couples. He has long been a supporter of legal cannabis ー in fact, he was in many ways ahead of his time with his support for medical marijuana back in the early 1990s.
"Right now, the federal government is saying cannabis is illegal, federally," he said. "That's ludicrous!"
He also wants to eliminate barriers to voting and supports the concept of mobile ballots, telling Cheddar more millennials would be politically engaged if they could vote from a handheld device.
"I'd like to enlarge the electorate," he tells Cheddar's Kristen Scholer. "I think mobile voting is an idea whose time has come, and now it's only a matter of working out the kinks."
Despite these progressive social views, Weld is fiscally a traditional conservative. He has prioritized cutting spending and taxes as a means to shrink the influence of government in Americans' lives.
"I was voted the most fiscally responsible governor in the United States because I cut spending in absolute dollars," he said.
But in the end, a primary challenge would be read as a protest of his party's embattled standard bearer, who remains very popular within the GOP.
"He doesn't have the skill-sets or the character or the temperament to be president of the United States," Weld said of President Trump. "He's borderline unhinged."
For full interview click here.