Weld, who ran poorly in a recent survey of Republican voters in neighboring New Hampshire, cited family reasons for removing himself from the field.
"I suppose it is possible to be a presidential candidate, governor and father of five teen-agers all at the same time," Weld said at a news conference. "But I think at least one of those roles would have suffered. Probably, all three would have suffered."
Weld, who won a landslide reelection last November, joined a substantial list of Republican notables who have decided not to enter the race, also citing either family or fund-raising pressure. So far, only Sen. Phil Gramm of Texas has formally entered. Former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander plans to announce his candidacy today and Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas has slated his declaration for April 10.
On Monday, Alexander announced a financial coup: he signed for his fund-raising team Sam J. Bamieh, the chairman of an investment company based in San Mateo, Calif., who had been a major money collector for Wilson.
Bamieh's announcement was surprising because most Republicans believe that Wilson is moving toward entering the race. Indeed, one adviser said Monday that Wilson might make some announcement of his intentions--perhaps forming an exploratory committee--as soon as later this week.
Weld's announcement may be another indication of Wilson's interest in the race: earlier the Massachusetts governor had said that he would not run if Wilson enters the contest. As two of the party's most prominent supporters of legal abortion, both Weld and Wilson would have competed for many of the same voters.
Wilson represents the largest remaining GOP question mark. Conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan is planning to announce his candidacy in March. Sens. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania are also exploring the contest.