BEDFORD, N.H. (CBS) – Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said in New Hampshire on Friday that he has formed an exploratory committee to enter the 2020 race for the White House as a Republican against President Donald Trump.

Weld, who was the Libertarian Party nominee for vice president in 2016, announced his plans at a Politics & Eggs breakfast in Bedford.

“I’m here because I think our country is in grave peril and I cannot sit any longer quietly on the sidelines,” Weld said.

Weld harshly criticized Trump in his speech, calling him a president who “openly praises and encourages despotic and authoritarian leaders,” “has railed against the very idea of the rule of law,” “has failed to call out and denounce appalling instances of racism” and “ridiculous and dismisses the looming threats from climate change.”

“Our president is simply too unstable to carry out the duties of the highest executive office of the land,” Weld said.

Weld said he supports cutting spending, affordable access to prescription drugs, better medical care for veterans and to seriously consider eliminating the Department of Education.

Trump has high approval ratings among Republicans, something Weld equated to “Stockholm syndrome, identifying with their captor.”

“I encourage those of you who are watching the current administration nervously but saying nothing to stand up and speak out when lines are crossed in dangerous ways,” Weld said.

Weld served as governor from 1991 to 1997 before resigning to pursue the ambassadorship to Mexico.

The Massachusetts Republican Party slammed Weld’s announcement, calling it “a grandstanding political gambit that reeks of political opportunism.”

“Weld is the same ex-Republican who deserted Massachusetts for New York; who endorsed President Barack Obama over Senator John McCain for President; who renounced the GOP for the Libertarian Party; who ran against the Trump-Pence Republican ticket in 2016, while cozying up to Democrat Hillary Clinton,” chairman Jim Lyons said in a statement. “Even Benedict Arnold switched allegiances less often!”

 

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