Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld defended Sunday his decision to pursue the main Republican challenge in 2020 against President Trump, saying in an interview with ABC News's "This Week" that he was acting in the higher interest of the country.
"I think Republicans in Washington do not want an election, basically. I do not think it would be very good for the country, "Weld told the host, Martha Raddatz.
Weld announced its decision Friday in New Hampshire, becoming the first major challenge to Trump's re-election bid.
In the interview with ABC, Weld also criticized Trump's leadership style, highlighting the president's statement that the country would be in a national emergency in search of a wall along the border with Mexico.
"He thinks he's going to humiliate anyone he's dealing with, otherwise he's a half-man," Weld said. "The emergency declaration is just one example. Congress thought it had an agreement. He says, "Oh, you think you have an agreement? I will show you an agreement. I will show you who the boss is. "It's just not possible to run a railroad."
A poll in the Washington Post-ABC News published last month showed that 78% of Republicans approve of how Trump manages his work as president, a figure suggesting that Weld would face a difficult climb by challenging Trump for his appointment to the GOP.
Weld said Sunday that he was counting on courting voters, including saying that Trump is "reckless in spending."
"They spend a trillion dollars a year. They do not have that. It will crush Generation X and Millennials in this country, "he said.
Weld also claimed that Trump's "hyperemphase" on a wall of the border is "pure politics on his part".
"I think it's part of the plan to make yourself indispensable. It is not essential at all, "said Weld. "People, you know, crossing the barriers that are already on the border with Mexico are not a national emergency, nor a major threat to the national security of the United States."
Weld was governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997, developing a reputation as a moderate Republican. He went unsuccessfully to the Senate in 1996 and, about a decade later, to the governorship of New York.
In 2016, Weld was the nominated candidate for the vice-presidency of the Libertarian Party. A few days before the election, he made headlines for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in an interview with Rachel Maddow of MSNBC.
Some Republicans have welcomed Weld's candidacy by drawing attention to his various partisan affiliations.
Massachusetts Republican Party President Jim Lyons issued a scathing statement Friday, saying that "even Benedict Arnold has changed allegiance less often!"
"Weld is the same ex-Republican who deserted Massachusetts for New York; who supported President Barack Obama over Senator John McCain as President; who gave up the GOP for the Libertarian Party; who ran against Republican Trump-Pence's ticket in 2016, while communicating with Democrat Hillary Clinton, "said Lyons.
Weld dismissed the criticism on Sunday, saying the state GOP presidents are "under pressure and under Washington's orders:" Make sure that guy does not get any purchase; make sure we do not really have a primary. "