Boston (AP) — William Weld, a former governor of Massachusetts who two years ago ran for vice president on the Libertarian Party ticket, on Monday became the first Republican to challenge President Donald Trump in the 2020 primaries.
Weld, 73, said in announcing his candidacy that “it is time to return to the principles of Lincoln — equality, dignity and opportunity for all.” He said, “There is no greater cause on earth than to preserve what truly makes America great. I am ready to lead that fight.”
Weld has accused Trump of leaving the nation in “grave peril” and has said his “priorities are skewed toward promotion of himself rather than for the good of the country.” While Trump’s overall approval ratings have been poor for much of his presidency, he remains popular with Republican voters. The Republican National Committee in January issued a nonbinding resolution to declare the party’s undivided support for Trump.
The move by Weld makes Trump the first incumbent president since George H.W. Bush in 1992 to face a notable primary challenge.
Fiscally conservative but socially liberal, Weld is known for an unconventional, at times quirky, political style and a long history of friction with the party he now seeks to lead.
Weld endorsed Democrat Barack Obama over Republican nominee John McCain in 2008, later saying it was a mistake to do so, and has enjoyed a decadeslong friendship with the Clintons, which began early in his career when he served alongside Hillary Clinton as a lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate proceedings.
Weld’s nomination by President Bill Clinton to be U.S. ambassador to Mexico touched off a bitter public spat with then-Sen. Jesse Helms, a conservative Republican from South Carolina who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Years earlier, Weld was among a handful of top Justice Department officials to resign in protest over alleged ethical violations by then-Attorney General Ed Meese, long a favorite of conservatives.
With little in the way of organization or outside money, and at odds with a majority of GOP voters who solidly support Trump, Weld’s longshot campaign will target disaffected Republicans and independents who share his disdain for the president and embrace libertarian values of small government, free trade and free markets, and personal freedom.
Alternately a politician, federal prosecutor, investment banker, lobbyist and even novelist — his political mystery called “Mackerel by Moonlight” was published to mixed reviews in 1998 — the Harvard-educated scion of a prominent Boston family was a lifelong Republican before bolting the GOP to run on the Libertarian Party ticket with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in 2016.
Johnson and Weld received about 4.5 million votes, a little more than 3 percent of the national popular vote.
Despite a pledge to libertarians that he would remain loyal to the party going forward, Weld on Jan. 17 walked into the clerk’s office of the Massachusetts town where he lives and re-registered with the GOP, adding to speculation that he would challenge Trump in the primaries.
Weld has not won a political race since being re-elected governor by a landslide in his heavily Democratic state in 1994. He was first elected to the office in 1990, defeating a conservative Democratic candidate, and quickly became one of Massachusetts’ most popular governors in recent history.
While holding the line on spending and taxes, Weld as governor embraced liberal positions at odds with national Republicans on abortion and gay rights. His low-key style and sharp wit also seemed to play well with voters as did his penchant for the unexpected: He once ended a news conference touting progress in cleaning up Boston’s polluted Charles River by diving fully clothed into the waterway.
After winning a second term, Weld’s attention appeared to drift away from the governor’s office and toward other political pursuits. He briefly entertained a run for president in 1996 before mounting an unsuccessful campaign that year to unseat Democratic Sen. John Kerry.
He resigned as governor the following year after Clinton nominated him to be ambassador to Mexico, but it was a post he would never hold. Helms dug in his heels and refused to schedule a hearing on the nomination, claiming among other things that Weld’s support for medical marijuana and needle exchange programs for drug users disqualified him from serving in Mexico because of that country’s history of drug trafficking.
Weld fired back at Helms, suggesting it was un-American for Helms to refuse to hold a public hearing on a high-profile ambassadorial nomination.
Weld left the public arena but later moved to New York, where he would make a brief, unsuccessful bid to become the first person since Sam Houston to serve as governor of two different states.
A “Schock For Congress?”: Aaron Schock Possibly Making New Run For Congress
Scandal-ridden former Republican representative, Aaron Schock, may be planning to run for Congress again.
A Statement of Organization was filed last week with the Federal Election Commission for the “Schock for Congress” campaign, LGBTQNation reported.
Schock, 37, is listed as the campaign treasurer upon the documents, even though the campaign reportedly has no funds.
The politician served as a US Representative from Illinois from 2009 to 2015. However he resigned after being accused of misusing campaign and public funds.
He was also the subject of a congressional ethics investigation and was indicted by a federal grand jury.
Federal prosecutors dropped charges earlier this year in exchange for paying $110,000 in restitution and taxes.
At the time, the Republican told CBS News that he hadn’t ruled out the possibility of returning to politics at some point in the future.
‘At 37-years-old, I don’t think I’ll ever say never,” said Schock. He added that he had “enjoyed being out of politics the last four years.’
Schock has proved a controversial figure among the LGBTI community. While in office, he campaigned against a number of issues including gays in the military, marriage equality, and LGBTI hate crimes.
However, although not openly gay, photographs have been widely circulated apparently showing Schock making out with a man in public while putting his hand down the man’s shorts.
(Reporting by Gay Star News)
President Trump, Joe Biden Will Overlap in Iowa After Months of Jabbing Each Other
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — After months of jabbing each other from afar, President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden will overlap Tuesday in Iowa, a state that’s critical to their political futures.
For Biden, a convincing win in next year’s caucuses would cement him as the Democratic front-runner and reinforce his chief argument that he is the party’s best-positioned candidate to beat Trump. The Republican president, meanwhile, is seeking to shore up his Iowa support as part of a broader effort to ensure the Midwestern states he snagged in 2016 remain in his column next year.
The battle for the Democratic nomination is early and fluid, and Biden has plenty of work ahead to hold his lead among Democrats in Iowa and nationally. But the two men’s convergence in a state that has swung between Democrats and Republicans over the past two decades could offer a glimpse into what a Trump-Biden matchup would look like if the former vice president prevails in his quest for the nomination.
“Both of them being around is a nice contrast for voters so that they can hear two different sides,” said Steve Drahozal, chairman of the Dubuque County Democratic Party.
Trump and Biden have been circling each other for months.
Trump, despite the private counsel of his advisers, has thrown a steady stream of public insults at Biden. Since March, Trump has mocked or criticized Biden on Twitter nearly 40 times.
In one of his most brazen attacks, during a recent state visit to Japan, Trump echoed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s description of Biden as “low-IQ.”
Biden, in turn, has hit at Trump. At a recent Houston fundraiser, Biden vowed not to “get down in the mud wrestling with this fella,” only to say later at the same event, “We all know this guy doesn’t know anything.”
On Tuesday, he’ll criticize the president’s economic policy as hurting those very voters who helped elect him.
“He thinks he’s being tough. Well, it’s easy to be tough when someone else is feeling the pain,” Biden says, in remarks prepared for delivery Tuesday in blue collar Ottumwa, the seat of Wapello County.
Trump was the first Republican to carry the economically struggling county in southeast Iowa since Dwight Eisenhower.
“How many sleepless nights do you think Trump has had over what he’s doing to America’s farmers?” Biden asks, according to his prepared remarks. “Zero.”
For Trump, the biggest concern in this state dominated by agriculture interests could be trade. He begins his trip in Council Bluffs to tour and speak at Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, which produces and sells the corn-based fuel additive ethanol, before addressing an Iowa GOP dinner in Des Moines.
He’s expected to highlight his efforts to help farmers hurt financially from Chinese tariffs on U.S. agriculture products, measures that were imposed last year after Trump slapped levies on Chinese imports.
Trump also is likely to try to sell farmers on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, which remains to be ratified by lawmakers in each country. Supporters of the deal, which is an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement, feared that Trump’s recent threat to impose tariffs on Mexico over illegal immigration would jeopardize the pact’s passage by U.S. lawmakers. But Trump announced an agreement with Mexico late last week and delayed the tariffs for the time being.
The president, however, has been stung by criticism that what he announced last Friday amounted to a ramping up of steps Mexico had already agreed to. He lashed out Monday in a pair of tweets in which he teased a secret deal with Mexico to be announced soon. Mexico countered that no secret deal was in the works.
For his part, Biden will be in Iowa just days after more than a dozen of his Democratic rivals were in the state for a party dinner. Several aimed veiled barbs at the former vice president, framing him as someone unable to bring the country into the future.
The trip comes after he roiled the Democratic contest last week by saying he supported a prohibition on federal funds supporting abortion. After an outcry from women’s groups and most other Democratic candidates, he backtracked and said he would support the repeal of the Hyde Amendment.
He will begin his trip campaigning in parts of southeast Iowa that were won by Barack Obama but that later embraced Trump.
It’s wise for Biden to campaign in Trump-won territory to reinforce his contention that he’s the best-suited Democrat to face Trump, said David Axelrod, a senior strategist to Obama.
“He continues to be the person at this juncture whom voters think can beat Trump. He seems like the least risky choice,” Axelrod said. “But too many episodes like last week and that riskiness factor is going to go up.”
Montana Governor Steve Bullock Enters 2020 Democratic Presidential Race
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced Tuesday that he is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, distinguishing himself among nearly two dozen candidates as the field’s only statewide elected official to win a state that President Donald Trump carried in 2016.
The 53-year-old governor is running as a centrist Democrat who has advanced party values while navigating a Republican legislature and a GOP-leaning electorate. Bullock made his candidacy official in a video that capped months of speculationfueled by his political activity in Iowa, which hosts the nation’s first presidential caucus next February.
“What we need to do is get the country back on track, make sure everybody has a fair shot at success,” he told The Associated Press in an interview. “I’ve been able to get meaningful things done that impact the people of my state. I believe there’ll be a strong reception for that.”
His immediate challenge is corralling enough donors and support in the polls to qualify for the first Democratic debate in June. He told reporters during an appearance at the high school from which he graduated that he hopes to do that over the next month, but he’ll still be out campaigning even if he doesn’t make the cut.
“The debate stage would be lacking a bit if they didn’t have somebody who actually got reelected in a state where Donald Trump won,” he said. “I’ll do the best I can to get there.”
More broadly, as a white Trump-state Democrat, Bullock could face an uphill battle to break through in a primary that has been defined by former Vice President Joe Biden’s dominance and the progressive energy of a diverse party base.
Bullock plans a two-tiered argument.
He pitches himself as the rare Democrat who can win over rural and small-town voters — a constituency that helped Trump flip key battleground states in 2016. Bullock has done it three times in Montana, where Democrat Hillary Clinton got just 36 percent of the vote against Trump.
“We need somebody who can win back some of these places we lost in ’16,” Bullock said, adding, “Voters want somebody that they believe can win, that will fight for them.”
Yet Bullock emphasizes that he governs with mainstream Democratic priorities. He has expanded Medicaid insurancecoverage to nearly a tenth of Montana’s 1.06 million residents as part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act and embraced marriage equality for same-sex couples. He’s used executive orders to extend LGBTQ rights and protect net neutrality, and he’s vetoed gun bills backed by the National Rifle Association and measures that would have severely limited abortion access.
He also has spent years advocating for tighter regulation of money in politics, unsuccessfully challenging the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling as attorney general and then, as governor, signing a law that requires dark-money groups operating in the state to disclose their donors. Last year, he sued the Internal Revenue Service over a Trump administration rule change to stop requiring the disclosure of donor information from certain nonprofit organizations.
He’s aligned himself with conservationists, environmental activists and outdoorsmen by prioritizing public land use and conservation — a key issue in many Western states. But he’s also been at odds with them at times as the leader of an energy-producing state, such as when he criticized the Obama administration for “moving the goalposts” by proposing stringent carbon dioxide emission reductions under the now-defunct Clean Power Plan.
His time in office has largely been scandal-free, with the occasional hiccup. Earlier this year, Bullock apologized for not doing enough to warn others about a longtime aide who was accused of sexually harassing women while working first for the Democratic Governors Association while Bullock was chairman and later for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.
Bullock’s attendance at a Paul McCartney concert in Missoula in 2014 also opened the door for critics to scrutinize his use of a state plane that resulted in his having to reimburse $7,000 for flights that mixed official business and campaign trips. The state’s campaign regulator determined Bullock’s 2016 reelection campaign violated state law by failing to make timely expense reports related to use of the plane.
Bullock joins Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper as the only state executives vying for the nomination.
The Montana governor is likely among the final Democrats to join one of the biggest presidential fields in modern memory. De Blasio is expected to announce his decision this week on whether to run for the White House. And Stacey Abrams of Georgia continues to indulge speculation that she could scramble the field with a late launch this summer or fall.
Although he is not a household name, Bullock is well known and well regarded in Democratic circles beyond Montana. He currently chairs the bipartisan National Governors Association.
Some Democrats had hoped he’d challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines in 2020, but Bullock insisted Tuesday that he is focused solely on the presidential race.
“This isn’t for me a vanity project,” Bullock said. “I wouldn’t be getting into it if I didn’t think I had something really significant to offer.”
Bullock and his wife, Lisa, have three children, ages 16, 14 and 12, who attend the same Helena public schools where the governor was educated. Steve Bullock graduated from Claremont McKenna College in California and Columbia Law School. He spent part of his legal career in Montana state government and had stints at law firms in Washington, D.C., and New York, and his own private practice in Helena, before being elected attorney general in 2008. He won the governor’s race with 48 percent of the vote in 2012 and was reelected with 50.2 percent of the vote the same day that Trump won 56.2 percent of presidential ballots.
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