Weld's primary goal: 'Bring new people in,' kick Trump out of office

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PITTSFIELD While the Democratic candidates for president gathered in Las Vegas on Wednesday for their latest debate, a Republican candidate was in Pittsfield, touting his credentials as a viable alternative to the current occupant of the White House.

"I disapprove of Mr. Trump," former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said in a meeting with The Eagle's editorial board. "I think he's an authentic threat to our democratic institutions and has already cost us our primary place in the world due to his antics abroad."

Weld, who served as the state's chief executive from 1991 to 1997, always has been an outlier within the Republican Party — he was a member of the Libertarian Party from 2016 to 2019 and served as that party's candidate for vice president in the 2016 presidential election.

But, Weld, who turns 75 on July 31, believes that, in this election, he can appeal to independents and disaffected members of both major parties who have become weary of President Donald Trump.

"My goal or aim is to enlarge the electorate for people to vote in the Republican primary, to bring new people in," he said. "That includes younger voters.

"I've tried to make the case that both the trillion-dollar [deficit] issues and polar ice cap issues are guns aimed at the heads of millennials, who are now the largest voting population, and Gen Xers."

After receiving 9 percent of the vote in the Republican primary in New Hampshire, Weld has his sights set on Super Tuesday on March 3, the day 14 states, including Massachusetts, will be holding their primaries.

"I sure would like to pop one of those states with a clear victory," Weld said, adding that his chances appear best in Massachusetts, Vermont or Utah. Weld has been endorsed by Vermont's Republican governor, Phil Scott.

"Those are the places where I'll be spending the most of my time before March 3," Weld said, referring to those three states. "Maybe Colorado, too.

"More broadly, our focus has been and has continued to be the 24 states that allow crossover voting," he said, referring to states like Vermont that allow independents and Democrats to vote in the Republican primary.

"I'm not going to get anywhere if I take my case to the Republican State Committee in any state, since the committee merged itself with the Trump campaign," he said. "The Republican State Committee in every state, including this one, is the Trump organization."

When asked how he will appeal to Republican voters, Weld said: "I'd say that I'm an economic conservative. That I wouldn't stand for trillion-dollar deficits. And I'd say that I would have a bipartisan Cabinet and reach across the aisle like we did here [in Massachusetts]."

Weld believes that Washington needs a "makeover."

"The trillion-dollar deficits are a national security issue because we can't depend on the Chinese to buy our [Treasury bonds] indefinitely, so, we're placing ourselves in hock to other nations," Weld said.

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He said the polar ice caps will melt if "precautions aren't taken," which would result in "another international emergency."

Weld's solution? Assess a carbon tax to fossil fuel companies.

Have them "pay $30 to $50 a ton for every ton of carbon that they emit into the atmosphere and allow that price to go up until it hits the 'ouch' level," Weld said. "The time will come when they won't want to keep putting carbon in the atmosphere."

Global warming also threatens to melt the glaciers that are the main source of drinking water for 300 million people around the world, according to Weld.

"Don't get me started on that," he said. "That's not being tended to, because we have a president who thinks the whole thing is a hoax."

On immigration, Weld believes that the U.S. should establish a work visa program modeled on a seasonal work visa program in Canada "that is very successful."

"The 11 million undocumented immigrants in our midst overstayed their visas," he said. "They didn't crawl through the mud at the Mexican border to hide here and take people's jobs.

"We need all kinds of visas," he added. "We're kind of educating our competition. Just at the time the most brilliant woman graduates from MIT, we're telling her to go back to China."

Weld also is critical of Trump's handling of international affairs, including his "total lack of understanding" that "nuclear proliferation" is a "bad thing."

"He's trying to get Japan and South Korea to launch new, different weapons programs," Weld said. "We had a hard time keeping the nuclear peace with a small number of nuclear nations."

Referring to his campaign coffers, Weld described his funding as being "in the lower seven figures."

"I'm self-funded, to some extent," he said.

Weld also said he would be willing to support a Democratic Party candidate for president.

"I would vote for virtually any Democrat against Donald Trump," he said. "If they're way, way, way out there, I might support a third-party candidate. But, I've said I will never support Donald Trump for anything."

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.


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