Republican Vermont Governor Rebukes Trump, Endorses Challenger Bill Weld Ahead of 'Super Tuesday' Primary

In a rare Republican rebuke of President Donald Trump, Vermont GOP Governor Phil Scott endorsed challenger Bill Weld in the state's upcoming March 3 primary.

Scott offered his endorsement Saturday of Weld, the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, who is challenging Trump in the GOP presidential primaries, WPTZ-TV first reported. After losing to Trump in the New Hampshire primary last week, Weld said he would extend his campaign at least through the March 3 "Super Tuesday" primaries which includes Vermont and 13 other states across the country. Scott identifies with the libertarian wing of the Republican Party alongside Weld, and had previously suggested he might endorse a GOP primary challenger to Trump's 2020 re-election campaign last year.

"Governor Weld is someone who is on the ticket, I've met with him before, I think a lot of him and his platform so I would be supporting him," Scott said Saturday.

Scott's endorsement of Weld comes just three ahead of the Vermont primary and puts himself forth as one of the few state or local Republicans across the country to embrace one of Trump's long-shot primary challengers. Former Illinois GOP Congressman Joe Walsh ended his primary challenge against Trump on February 7, and former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford ended his primary challenge in November. Only California businessman Rocky De La Fuente has continued his challenge alongside Weld.

The Republican Vermont governor previously hinted he would consider a presidential candidate other than Trump during a May 2019 weekly press conference. "Oh sure, yes," Scott told reporters after being asked if he would potentially support Weld over Trump. "I don't know who else is going to put their name out there. I've heard some other names floating around, so I'm not ready to get behind anybody at this point ... I thought [Weld] was interesting, very articulate, very forthright. Didn't agree with everything that he said, but there were a lot of things I agreed with him on. He's an interesting guy."

Weld, a former U.S. attorney, thanked Scott for endorsement Saturday on social media.

"I'm a great admirer of @GovPhilScott of Vermont, and am delighted to have his endorsement in the Republican presidential primary on Super Tuesday. VT has been well served in the past by Republican governors, and Gov. Scott admirably extends that tradition," Weld remarked on Twitter Saturday, sharing Scott's announcement from Vermont's capital city, Montpelier.

Trump has sustained overwhelming support among Republican primary voters throughout his re-election campaign and has focused most of his criticism on his potential Democratic challengers. A University of New Hampshire poll conducted before last week's primary in Vermont's neighboring New England state found that Republican primary voters favored Trump over Weld by an 83 percentage points.

vermont republican governor phil scott
Vermont GOP Governor Phil Scott endorsed challenger Bill Weld in the upcoming March 3 state primary. STREETER LECKA / Staff/Getty Images
Republican Vermont Governor Rebukes Trump, Endorses Challenger Bill Weld Ahead of 'Super Tuesday' Primary | Politics