On 25 October 2016, former Governor Bill Weld, the Vice-Presidential candidate from the Libertarian Party, issued a press statement on the Final Weeks of the 2016 Presidential Election. It was pounced upon as evidence that Bill Weld endorsed Hillary Clinton, and the Johnson-Weld campaign was throwing in the towel. Let’s find out if that is really the case.
Bill Weld Dropped Out & Endorsed Hillary Clinton?
A number of websites declared the press statement as a sign that Bill Weld was quitting the race and/or endorsing Hillary Clinton instead. Check out their headlines :
The underlying message was that Bill Weld was essentially acknowledging the hopelessness of the Libertarian ticket, and endorsing Hillary Clinton instead.
What Did Bill Weld Actually Say?
Here is the full press statement that former Governor Bill Weld posted on 25 October 2016. We highlighted some key points in red and green.
October 25, 2016:
“It is a privilege and an honor to participate in this year’s national election campaign. I am grateful to Governor Gary Johnson for the opportunity to do so. Under Governor Johnson’s leadership the Libertarian Party has made great strides in this election cycle. Gary and I will carry our message of fiscal responsibility, social inclusion, and smaller government through November 8, and I hope that this election cycle will secure for the Libertarian Party a permanent place in our national political dialogue.
“We are making strides toward breaking the two party monopoly, and America will be stronger when we do, but given the position of the Commission on Presidential Debates, the deck is still stacked against even a credible third party ticket with two proven former Governors.
“Against that backdrop, I would like to address myself to all those in the electorate who remain torn between two so-called major party candidates whom they cannot enthusiastically support. I’m speaking particularly to those Republicans who feel that our President should exhibit commonly accepted standards of decency and discipline.
“I would not have stepped out of the swirl of the campaign to make this statement if I did not fear for our country, as I do.
“In the final days of this very close race, every citizen must be aware of the power and responsibility of each individual vote. This is not the time to cast a jocular or feel-good vote for a man whom you may have briefly found entertaining. Donald Trump should not, cannot, and must not be elected President of the United States.”
Our Opinion : Yes & No
The points highlighted in red are what we believe to be evidence that Bill Weld still intends to continue campaigning on the Libertarian Party ticket.
- He stated specifically that Gary Johnson and he intend to continue campaigning right until Election Day.
- He called the Johnson-Weld ticket “a credible third party ticket with two proven former Governors”.
Those two points alone dismiss the notion that Bill Weld was dropping out of the Libertarian Presidential campaign. On the other hand, there are two points (highlighted in green) that suggest that he is actually calling on the undecided voters to select Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.
- He was addressing the undecided electorate who “remained torn” between the two major party candidates.
- He stated he was making the statement outside of his campaign.
If we read between the lines, Bill Weld endorsed Hillary Clinton to those who are undecided between the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. He did not openly endorse her, but by speaking to those who choose to decide between the two major party candidates and pointing out that “Donald Trump should not, cannot, and must not be elected President of the United States“, it’s as good as an endorsement.
The Johnson-Weld Campaign Responds
The very next day, the Johnson-Weld campaign issued a press statement to refute claims that Bill Weld was quitting the race and endorsing Hillary Clinton instead.
“Several web sites and media outlets have seized upon Governor Bill Weld’s statement from a news conference Tuesday in Boston to jump to conclusions that are wishful thinking, rather than reality.
“Led by Occupy Democrats, a well-known mouthpiece for the left, the sensationalists and wishful thinkers are re-writing Gov. Weld’s forceful condemnation of Donald Trump into a suggestion that voters should support Hillary Clinton. That is absurd.
“Governor Weld and Governor Johnson are campaigning nonstop, with rallies and appearances scheduled over the next few days across the country from Alaska to Cincinnati, and are fully committed to giving voters the third choice they deserve in this election.
“Any suggestion to the contrary is the product of active imaginations and partisans in both the Republican and Democrat camps who see how many independents, millennials and other disenfranchised voters are looking to the Johnson-Weld ticket as a vote they can cast in good conscience.
“Governor Weld has made clear from day one his fear of a potential Trump presidency, just as he has made clear his policy differences with Hillary Clinton. The only candidate he is urging voters to support for President is Gov. Gary Johnson. Period.
“The wishful thinkers need to take a break and start wishing for something else, because the Johnson-Weld ticket is not giving an inch to Donald Trump OR Hillary Clinton.”
Our Opinion On The Refutation
In our opinion, the Johnson-Weld campaign is just doing damage control.
Yes, Bill Weld never said he would stop campaigning. But he did call out to voters choosing between Trump and Clinton to prevent Trump from ever becoming the President of the United States. That is an indirect endorsement of the Clinton campaign, if not of the candidate itself.
Of course, less than a month earlier (on 30 September), Bill Weld told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd in an interview that he’s “not sure anybody is more qualified than Hillary Clinton to be president of the United States“. A Freudian slip? 😀
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