Libertarian VP candidate Bill Weld 'vouches' for Clinton

Bill Weld has explicitly acknowledged a split with running mate Gary Johnson on the issue of Clinton's emails.

Brian Snyder/Reuters
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson (R) and vice presidential candidate Bill Weld arrive for a campaign rally in Boston, August 27.

While third party candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein have little chance of winning the presidential election next week, both appear to be sticking it out until the end, attacking the Democratic and Republican candidates alike in an attempt to ensnare disillusioned voters.

But the Libertarian Party vice presidential nominee, William Weld, seems to be taking a different approach. Instead, he seems to be becoming more concerned about the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency.

In an interview Tuesday on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show," Mr. Weld expressed support for, though not an endorsement of, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The candidate also acknowledged the near-impossibility of a Libertarian victory in a highly unusual move for a third-party campaign that was always unlikely to get a real shot at the White House.

During the interview, the former Massachusetts governor said that he disagreed with FBI director James Coney's public announcement that the bureau was investigating emails belonging to Huma Abedin, a longtime aide to Mrs. Clinton. Despite the vagueness of the revelation, the news was a blow to the Clinton campaign, which had been enjoying a comfortable lead over Donald Trump in the weeks prior.

"I'm here vouching for Mrs. Clinton, and I think it's high time somebody did," Weld said in the interview.

Weld also acknowledged that it was unlikely that a Libertarian presidential victory would be all but impossible "in the real world," a consequence he blamed on not being able to participate in the presidential debates. The Libertarian ticket is currently polling between 3 and 7 percent support in surveys across the country.

Over the past few days, Weld seems to be moving away from his core Libertarian message. While he has stopped short of telling swing voters not to vote for his party's ticket, he does seem to be focusing his attacks on Trump rather than both major party candidates. On MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program Wednesday, he read a passage from George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984, comparing the Republican candidate to Big Brother. In an interview with CNN the day prior, he compared Trump to the character in film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" yelling "Burn the witch" in reference to Clinton and her emails.

"I see a big difference between the R candidate and the D candidate and I've been at some pains to say that I fear for the country if Mr. Trump should be elected," Weld told Rachel Maddow. "It's a candidacy without any parallel that I can recall. It's content-free and very much given to stirring up envy and resentment and even hatred. And I think it would be a threat to the conduct of our foreign policy and our position in the world at large."

The statements from Weld are a significant departure from the Libertarian strategy, which aimed to capitalize on the unpopularity of both major party candidates. Both Mr. Johnson and Weld have criticized the "voting for the lesser evil" strategy in the past in an attempt to gain major party voters who had been disillusioned by Clinton or Trump. In fact, Johnson continues to hold on to this strategy, comparing the latest FBI announcement about Clinton-related emails to the Watergate scandal.

"I think unquestionably if [Clinton] takes office she is going to be under criminal investigation, unquestionably this is going to be the nation's agenda for the entire time she is office and it may well end up in impeachment," Johnson told CNN on Tuesday.

Weld, a former Justice Department official, explicitly split with his running mate on this issue.

"I've known her for 40 years. I've worked with her. I know her well, professionally," Weld told Ms. Maddow. "I know her well personally. I know her to be a person of high moral character, a reliable person and an honest person, however so much Mr. Trump may rant and rave to the contrary."

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