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Republican Bill Weld says he could challenge Trump

  • Former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld visited Franklin Pierce University on Thursday to kick off "Pizza and Politics," a series of on-campus conversations with declared or potential presidential candidate. Weld, a Republican, is currently mulling a run against President Donald Trump in the primary election. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld visited Franklin Pierce University on Thursday to kick off "Pizza and Politics," a series of on-campus conversations with declared or potential presidential candidate. Weld, a Republican, is currently mulling a run against President Donald Trump in the primary election. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld visited Franklin Pierce University on Thursday to kick off "Pizza and Politics," a series of on-campus conversations with declared or potential presidential candidate. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld visited Franklin Pierce University on Thursday to kick off "Pizza and Politics." Staff photo by Nicholas Handy

  • Former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld visited Franklin Pierce University on Thursday to kick off "Pizza and Politics," a series of on-campus conversations with declared or potential presidential candidate. Weld, a Republican, is currently mulling a run against President Donald Trump in the primary election. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—

  • Former Massachusetts Governor William F. Weld visited Franklin Pierce University on Thursday to kick off "Pizza and Politics," a series of on-campus conversations with declared or potential presidential candidate. Weld, a Republican, is currently mulling a run against President Donald Trump in the primary election. Staff photo by Nicholas Handy—



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Friday, February 22, 2019 2:51PM

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld stopped by Franklin Pierce University on Thursday to enjoy a slice of pizza and talk about a potential presidential run with students.

The Republican politician, who most recently served as Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s running mate in 2016, has launched a presidential exploratory committee to examine the possibility of challenging President Donald Trump in the upcoming primary election.

“I can’t sit this one out. I will have a little period of investigation to make sure I would get the support,” Weld said, in front of an audience of over 50 students, staff, and others in the university’s library. “Our country is in something of a crisis. You know that President Trump is a man of energy… he doesn’t have the same view of the world that I do.”

Weld came to Franklin Pierce to kick off this election cycle’s “Pizza and Politics” series, which allows students the opportunity to speak with declared or potential presidential candidates.

“I think the first two priorities for the federal government – ‘if I ran the zoo’ so to speak, to quote Dr. Seuss – would be cutting spending then cutting taxes. Cutting spending has to come first,” Weld said.

Weld was critical of Trump’s relationship with the American press and his alignment with dictators and autocrats, including Russian’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.

“These are not in our interest, these moves,” Weld said. “I occasionally think that the president wouldn’t mind if the United States resembled those countries more than it does now. Of course, he would be at the top in his hypothetical.”

In addition to serving as the governor of the Bay State from 1991 to 1997, Weld served as the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division from 1986 to 1988 and as the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts from 1981 to 1986.

“It’s a different background, and I have a lot of respect for the rule of law bred into me,” Weld said, comparing himself to Trump. “… And I don’t think the president identifies with that at all. As a matter of fact, he claims to have spent [the 1980s] judging beauty contests and chasing models at fashion shows.”

Weld said part of the reason why he may challenge Trump in the primary election is that “history is not kind to incumbent presidents when there is a primary challenge.”

Most recently, sitting presidents George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter faced a challenge in the primary election. In both cases, the sitting presidents won the primary but would lose in the general election.

“If you look at the historical record there’s every reason to think such a move could be productive,” Weld said.

In his speech to college students, Weld stressed the importance of college affordability reducing the national debt.

“The President hasn’t vetoed a dollar of spending. He really owns that trillion dollars a year in excess debt, as well as the leaders in Congress, but that’s going to fall on you… your generation is going to have to pay the interest on that debt and that’s going to impact everyone’s standard of living going forward,” Weld said.

He also advocated for interest-free savings accounts for healthcare and retirement.

Weld also addressed his ties to the Libertarian party, saying he has self-identified as a small-L Libertarian since college. Running on the Libertarian ticket in 2016 didn’t change his views, Weld said.

“I’m a small government guy, and a maximum individual liberties person,” Weld said.

Weld – a self-proclaimed outdoorsman – stressed the importance of protecting the environment and labeled climate change a top priority.

“In Europe, they have their cathedrals and their monuments, we don’t have so many of those. But we’ve got mountains, we’ve got valleys, we’ve got rivers, we’ve got streams, and we better damn well take care of them,” Weld said. “I like to say the outdoors is my cathedral, it really is. I feel a bond with the natural world.”

On multiple occasions, Weld touted his proximity and connection to the Granite State. As a boy, he vacationed in Henniker and he currently rents space on a Gilsum tree farm with his family – saying he will likely spend more time in the area than any other candidate running for president.

Weld also talked about his admiration of Rindge’s Cathedral of the Pines.

“You stand in the middle of those pines and you just look up to the top, and I defy you to disbelieve in the existence in a higher power,” Weld said.

And in case you were wondering, Weld’s choice on pizza on Thursday was supreme.

“I like to take it through the garden and then the barnyard,” Weld said.

Nicholas Handy can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or nhandy@ledgertranscript.com.