A credible GOP alternative

If you’re looking to vote against Trump in the primary, consider Bill Weld

With all the discussion about the upcoming presidential primary focused on the two dozen or so Democrats seeking the presidency, a quiet effort has been going on in the Republican Party to provide an alternative choice to President Trump.

For some time, William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, has been crossing the state, meeting with groups and individuals to set the stage for his insurgent campaign to challenge Trump.

Weld, who has a distinguished record of public service, is remembered as a governor who cultivated a “quirky” image at times, but a closer view of his record shows the serious and broad background which would commend him to those interested.

Elected governor in 1990 with 50% of the vote and re-elected in 1994 with 71%, he was the first Republican to be elected governor of Massachusetts for 20 years and began a run of four Republican governors in a row in that heavily Democratic state.

He previously ran for attorney general of Massachusetts, losing handily to Frank Bellotti, who went on to serve with great distinction and, notably, befriended Weld and later was a law partner of his. Weld served as U.S. attorney for Massachusetts and teamed up with Bellotti in many joint prosecutions and investigations. He later headed the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division and has extensive experience in international affairs.

Weld believed in balanced budgets, and cut taxes and balanced the budget. In his campaign for president, he cites the fact that current Republican congressmen appear to have ignored the debt and deficits. (This has been brought home again by the recent budget deal to extend the debt level without any fiscal controls well beyond the 2020 election, regardless of who wins.)

In Massachusetts, Weld forged alliances with Democrats and not only restored the financial health of the state, but fought for tough criminal justice laws, better education and environmental protection. He advocated equal rights for many who then did not have them.

He has been an international lawyer and led trade missions to various continents to promote Massachusetts as an international hub for business. He is a strong supporter of free trade, having worked with President Clinton and speaker Gingrich in 1994 in crafting NAFTA. He is a firm believer in international coalitions and is an active member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

In his early career, Weld was assistant counsel on the Watergate impeachment inquiry, and he has had various stints as a private attorney with prominent law firms.

Weld has stated his purpose for running, simply and directly, as follows: “… I think our country is in grave peril … We have a President who openly praises and encourages despotic and authoritarian leaders abroad, while going out of his way to insult and even humiliate our democratic allies … We have a president who has set out to unravel, rather than promote, arms control agreements with other nuclear powers … He has lightly tossed around threats of the United States itself using nuclear weapons … He has railed against the very idea of the rule of law, the cornerstone of our individual freedoms … He has virtually spat upon the idea that we should have freedom of the press … He has failed to call out and denounce appalling instances of racism … He ridicules and dismisses the looming threats from climate change … He has demonstrated a repeated pattern of vindictiveness. The answer to all these questions … is that we have a president whose priorities are skewed toward promotion of himself rather than toward the good of the country.”

“Many aspects of our current morass in Washington cry out for bold action — before it is too late … The administration is spending a trillion dollars a year more than it takes in … That’s a trillion dollars of debt for our children and grandchildren to pay off. That’s not fair, to put it mildly, to members of the X-generations or to millennials.”

Republicans interested in an alternative to Trump should listen to Weld. Democrats who want a chance to vote against Trump twice should consider whether they want to switch parties and vote for him in the Republican primary. Unaffiliated voters have a reason to take a Republican ballot in the primary to send a message if they are dissatisfied. While other challengers have been rumored, and have tested the waters, Bill Weld has waded in.

Already, Weld has assembled a group of prominent New Hampshire Republicans
associated with moderate Republican causes over the years in his effort and when he reveals his entire team, it will be impressive.

Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass & Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He can be reached at bcook@sheehan.com.

Categories: Cook on Concord