Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, the Libertarian party vice presidential nominee, told a rally of 200 people in midtown Kansas City Thursday that only he and his running-mate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, could change Washington.
Calling political paralysis “the elephant and the donkey in the room,” Weld said something needs to be done to reign in the major parties’ hold on power.
“It's untrammeled power,” Weld said. “It's besotted by itself. The two parties want to kill each other, but they're united in a death spiral embrace. And the reason it's an embrace is because they want to maintain their monopoly on power in Washington D.C., and they'd very much love to brainwash all 330 million people in the United States that they have to vote R or they have to vote D.”
Earlier this week, Weld attracted attention—and the scorn of some Libertarian party faithful—by saying in a television interview that he preferred Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton to Republican Donald Trump. Some reported the comments as an endorsement of Clinton. Answering a supporter's question at the rally, Weld did not go that far, but said he "reserved the right" to prefer one major-party candidate over the other.
“I don’t think Hillary is just as bad as Donald,” Weld said and added that he’d be voting for Johnson.
Speaking with reporters before the rally, Weld addressed concerns that his and Johnson’s candidacy might inadvertently result in a Trump presidency.
“I have seen a lot of internal polling of various campaigns … and I do believe we're taking more from Mr. Trump than we are from Mrs. Clinton,” Weld said. “Certainly, my appeal in these last days is to moderate Republicans. What is it about Mr. Trump that makes you think he's at all a Republican? No Republican values, no decency, no civility, no free trade, no outreach the way everyone said we have to have to minority communities, to women.”
Rob Hodkinson, the Kansas Libertarian Party chair, conceded that electing libertarians to the White House and various state offices isn’t likely to happen. But he said Election Day still holds the promise of the giving the party federal recognition and public matching funds in the 2020 cycle if Johnson gets 5 percent of the national popular vote.
Even though polling for the ticket is averaging around 4 percent—down from 9 percent six weeks ago--Weld expressed confidence the 5 percent threshold would be reached, touting the uniqueness of his party’s message.
“We are fiscally responsible, socially tolerant, inclusive, and that does not describe either of the other parties, the establishment parties,” Weld said. “So the Republicans are trying to outdo themselves in being as mean-spirited as they possibly can, and the Democrats want to spend as much money as they possibly can, and that’s not us.”
Julie Pendarvis and Kenny Nead, an engaged couple from Kansas City, staffed a table distributing Johnson/Weld flyers and yard signs. Pendarvis said the Libertarian party had brought them—a couple whose votes usually canceled each other out—together.
“We never really agree,” Pendarvis said. “This is the first time that we really have.”