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GOP primary challenger Weld targets Trump during DHMC campaign stop

  • Bill Weld talks with Linda Miller, left, and Robyn Mosher, right, after speaking at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for his Republican presidential primary campaign in Lebanon, N.H., Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Former Massachusetts Governor and Republican presidential primary candidate Bill Weld speaks to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center employees on a campaign stop in Lebanon, N.H., Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 11, 2019

LEBANON — Presidential contender Bill Weld attempted to contrast his “real Republican” credentials as the fiscally conservative former governor of Massachusetts against “Republican in Name Only” policies of Donald Trump during a campaign stop in Lebanon on Wednesday.

Weld was a “renowned tax cutter” during his two terms as a Bay State governor, which saw him balance budgets and cut government waste, he told a room of about 30 people gathered at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.

By contrast, Trump continues to balloon the federal deficit, espouse authoritarian ideals and worry American allies, Weld said.

“My bedrock philosophy is that individual liberties should predominate over assertions of authority, and a good democracy is a place where an individual could never be thrust in the corner,” said Weld, who ran unsuccessfully in 2016 as a vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party.

While Weld is a disciple of supply-side economics and characterizes himself as a “small government guy,” he spent much of his time at DHMC discussing areas where he finds common ground with Democrats.

Weld said America should recommit to the Paris climate accord and Iranian nuclear deal that President Barack Obama signed onto. He’s also in favor of keeping the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, in place, so long as minor changes meant to lessen government involvement are adopted.

And the most important issue both Democrats and Weld agree on is defeating Trump in 2020.

“If you’d like to vote against Mr. Trump because you don’t agree with him, why don’t you vote against him twice instead of once?” Weld said, going on to ask liberally minded voters to pick a Republican ballot in the upcoming primaries.

Hartford dairy farmer Linda Miller said Weld’s more moderate approach might encourage her to weigh in on the Republican race in Vermont’s March 2020 primary.

Miller, a Democrat who was supporting South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg before meeting Weld on Wednesday, said she’s now considering voting for the former governor to “bloody Trump’s nose” ahead of a general election battle.

“I love that he’s got some ideas that are not right right wing,” Miller said after the DHMC event. “He sounded real, like he was not crazy.”

Catherine Reed, an oncology social worker at the hospital, also said Weld presented himself as “very reasoned.” National security concerns led Reed to register as a Republican in her 20s, but in the decades since she’s consistently voted for Democrats.

“I could happily vote for a Republican if he has the positions on issues that Gov. Weld does,” she said. “Some of the Democrats are so far left I don’t think they’re going to pull the disaffected Republicans.

But other attendees questioned whether Weld is running only to spoil Trump’s chances in a general election fight. The president remains popular among New Hampshire Republicans, while Weld received just 3% support in a Boston Herald/Franklin Pierce University poll released Wednesday.

“If I can win the New Hampshire primary, Mr. Trump would be out of commission,” Weld said. “The sharks would completely fill the water; the long knives would come out.”

Each of the five times a sitting president has faced a serious primary challenger, he’s lost the general election, Weld said, adding that some of the fate of presidents can be decided in the Granite State.

“Beyond that, I thought Mr. Trump didn’t have a very good August,” Weld said to some laughter. “I think he’s on more and more slippery ground.”

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.