When CBS News asked how seriously the campaign was taking Weld’s candidacy, the Trump campaign’s press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, said, “Not seriously at all.”
McEnany pointed to both the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Republican voters’ support for the president. “The voters have sent a pretty clear message — they stand with the president. The RNC has reflected that,” she said.
After Weld announced his candidacy on Monday, the RNC painted the challenge — along with any others that might arise — as fruitless. “The RNC and the Republican Party are firmly behind the president. Any effort to challenge the president’s nomination is bound to go absolutely nowhere,” the party said.
According to early polling from Monmouth University, Weld faces dismal prospects for his 2020 bid — only 10 percent of Republican voters say they could possibly support him.
Weld’s announcement also came amid figures showing that within the first three months of 2019, Trump had already filled his campaign coffers to the tune of more than $30 million.
McEnany discounted the possibility that Weld would get to debate Trump on TV, saying that the 2020 campaign wasn’t even entertaining the idea. “We’re focused on the Democrats,” she told CBS News.
After two U.S. senators blasted the president’s conduct, speculation emerged that those critics — Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Mitt Romney, R-Mass. — might challenge him in 2020. Both eventually denied planning to do so.
Intraparty tension seemed to reach a fever pitch in January when Romney’s niece, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, blasted her uncle in response to his criticisms of Trump’s character. Led by McDaniel, the Republican Party also unanimously approved a resolution earlier this year that offered the president “undivided support” before the 2020 presidential election.
Like Romney, Weld attacked Trump’s conduct while in office with a video that harped on, among other things, his comments surrounding the racially charged protests in Charlottesville, Va., that led to one person’s death.
Although Weld acknowledged he had a slim chance of besting Trump, he saw a reason for hope in the 2000 and 2008 candidacies of Sen. John McCain’s, R-Ariz. “John McCain made that work here twice. Not once but twice. He was the underdog both times,” Weld said.