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Bill Weld versus US President : Why a stranger Trump could be dangerous

Competition from within your own ranks is unusual for a US president. The incumbent can usually count on the support of his party for the second term. In the case of Donald Trump, this has been true twice so far. No Republican who holds or aspires to a political mandate has dared to address the president openly in order not to incur his concentrated Twitter anger. Audible criticism usually came only from old Trump enemies among the Conservatives such as the Bushs and their retired allies.

Intra-party competition damages authority

But now a Republican is challenging the president directly. The man's name is Bill Weld. He is 73 years old, one year older than Trump, belongs to the liberal wing of the party and was governor of the progressive east coast state of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997. In 2008 he recommended Barack Obama's election. In 2016 he ran for the Libertarian Party as Vice President. Such a person has little chance of success in a Republican party that has moved to the right and in which many see his opposing candidacy as sabotage of Trump's electoral chances.

Experience over the past decades suggests that if there was, rarely enough, an opposing candidate from the presidential party, he was never able to dispute the nomination from the incumbent. But he contributed to his defeat in the main election. George H.W. Bush missed re-election in 1992 after inner-party challenger Pat Buchanan damaged his authority.

Weld is little known among Republicans

Weld campaigns for moderate conservatives, demands a solid financial policy without new debt, and is rather tolerant of issues like abortion and gay marriage. The Republicans, he urges, must "reflect on Lincoln's principles: freedom, dignity and opportunity for all." Another term in office for Trump would lead to "great danger to the nation".

Meaningful national polls as to how many Republicans would support him do not exist - yet. In regional polls in Iowa, which will host the first 2020 primary election, 81 percent of Republicans say they barely know Weld. 81 percent are also satisfied with Trump's administration. As a competitor within the party, the president does not have to fear the challenger.

There are still no clear favorites among the Democrats

If Trump loses, it is more likely to be against the Democratic candidate. There the picture in the surveys is still vague. It reflects more the high or low level of awareness of the 18 applicants so far than a definition of who the respondents want to vote for. Joe Biden, Obama's Vice President, has a high "Name Recognition" and leads with 31 percent ahead of Bernie Sanders, who is also nationally known from the 2016 election campaign against Hillary Clinton (21.7 percent), and Beto O'Rourke, the newcomer Texas and Kamala Harris from California (eight percent each).

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