What a curious strategy for a third-party candidate who knows full well that his ticket is drawing more from Clinton’s voters, especially young left-leaning voters, than from Trump’s. That being so, logic dictates that you should maximize your vote share by attacking her, not him. Calling Trump a unique evil who must be stopped could backfire by convincing millennials who are leaning towards Johnson to reconsider and vote for Clinton inste—
This is the same Bill Weld, of course, who said five days ago that no one is more qualified to be president than Hillary Clinton, a candidate leading a rival party.
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…
While Weld insisted he still supports Johnson, he said he is now interested primarily in blocking Trump from winning the presidency and then potentially working with longtime Republican leaders such as Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour to create a new path for the party after the election…
Weld, a former Republican governor of Massachusetts, 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.”…
At one point, Weld strategists researched Libertarian Party rules to see if it were possible for him to take over the top of the ticket. The rules state the vice presidential nominee automatically assumes the presidential spot if there is a vacancy. But Johnson, peeved at the suggestion, flatly rejected the idea.
When asked if he was thinking of leaving the Libertarian Party, Weld told the Globe that he wouldn’t do so … this year. Next year? Who knows. That’s not surprising given that he’s always been a centrist Massachusetts Republican, not a libertarian, and won the VP nomination at the convention this year by the barest margin only because he was Johnson’s handpicked running mate. What is surprising, given Weld’s LINO status, is that he would have broached the idea of replacing Johnson at the top of the ballot. If he’s not invested in libertarianism, why would he want to lead the ticket? Even odder, Weld could be more salable to voters in both parties who hate their respective nominees but find Johnson too kooky to get comfortable with. He might have expanded the Libertarian Party’s vote share this year as nominee, but only at the price of sacrificing the libertarian brand — and if he had expanded it, he might have inadvertently enabled a Trump victory by peeling off more votes from Clinton than from Trump.
But maybe Weld thinks he wouldn’t have done better than Johnson as nominee, and that’s why he wanted to replace him. Weld the centrist moderate might have been a bust with younger voters and not quite interesting enough to disaffected older voters to get them to desert Trump or Clinton. If so, that would probably be a net gain for Clinton as millennials unimpressed with Weld gradually drifted back into her column. In other words, Weld might have become interested in supplanting Johnson once Johnson began to draw enough support from Clinton in swing states like Colorado to make the possibility of a Trump victory real. The mutiny wasn’t considered in the interest of righting the Libertarian ship but of sinking it. And if Weld as nominee did begin to catch on with voters, it seems more likely that he’d catch on with anti-Trump Republicans who were looking for a “sane” version of the party than far-left Berniebros who want some sort of radical alternative to Clinton. What’s the point of voting for centrist Bill Weld, young progressives might have asked, when they could vote for a centrist from their own party? If that’s true, that Weld heading the ticket would have hurt Trump more than Clinton, then the insurrection against Johnson would fit snugly into his “anyone but Trump” approach.
The Globe says he’s planning to travel to a handful of red states and New Hampshire to make the case against Trump, but if he’s really intent on helping Hillary, he’ll end up in battlegrounds like Colorado and Pennsylvania. We’ll see. Incidentally, I’m highly amused at the thought of Weld joining forces with Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour to try to “create a new path” towards centrism and moderation for a party that now largely consists of reactionaries and nationalists plus a sizable rump conservative minority. Does this guy really not understand how we’ve arrived at this point? He’d be better off trying to build a center-right third party, which of course would only have the effect of helping Democrats win elections if it caught on him. But Weld seems pretty comfortable with that.