Bill Weld: GOP Presidential Primary Candidate

Bill Weld: GOP Presidential Primary Candidate

The following is a New
Hampshire Primary 2020 special presentation,
The Exchange Candidate Forums from NHPR in partnership
with New Hampshire PBS. Hello, I’m Laura Knoy. Welcome to the Exchange
Candidate Forum series. We’re sitting down with
presidential candidates for the 2020 primary. And today, we’re talking
with Republican William Weld, a former governor
of Massachusetts. And so let’s begin. Governor Weld, welcome, and
thank you for being here. Thank you so much. Well, let’s start with
foreign policy, Governor, given what has been
happening in the news. Just yesterday, the
White House announced the US has begun
withdrawing troops from Syria’s border with Turkey. As you know, there is a
lot of concern about this– that the departure could
have dire consequences for the battle
against ISIS, make way for war between Turkish
and Kurdish forces– Kurdish forces, as you know,
fighting with American forces. President Trump
has said it’s time to bring American
soldiers home, Americans are tired of these endless wars. What’s your view
of the situation? My view is that the Kurds
have been our strongest allies in the Middle East
for a long time, with the possible exception,
of course, of Israel. But they fought with us
in Iraq and in Syria. Turkey, on the
other hand, has been pretty cozy with Nusra, who are
on the other side of the deal. And I can’t imagine
why the president decided to essentially betray
the Kurds on no notice. You know, people say that
in the telephone call he had with President
Erdogan that he had first took a strong line and
said, no, no, we’re going to stick with the Kurds. And Erdogan rolled him and
forced him to change his mind. He said, oh, OK. Now, I don’t know whether it’s
because he has investments in Turkey, I don’t know what it
is, but it doesn’t speak well. Then after being rolled,
the president then waved a shibboleth and said, I’m
going to ruin Turkey’s economy if they go ahead with this. Meanwhile, the
Turks have announced that they prepared their
attack, so the Kurds are trying to figure out, should
they just dig their own graves and prepare to die. I mean, it’s not something
that’s going to resonate well, either in the Middle East or
anywhere else where people have to rely on America as an ally. Americans are tired of wars
in the Middle East, tired of conflicts there. There is a sentiment in some
quarters to bring troops home. So what is the bar for
you, Governor Weld, of when you would put
American service members’ lives on the line, and
when you would say, no, that’s not our fight? Well, I do not believe in
sending boots on the ground into another country just
because we see something there we don’t like. You could almost
argue that that was the situation in Iraq in 2003. On the other hand, the
betrayal of the Kurds, who have been a
strong ally, leaving them to be overrun in
a day by the Turks, who really hate the Kurds– they regard them
as secessionists– is just too strong a medicine. That that’s not
non-interventionism, that’s betrayal. In addition to
Syria, as president, Governor Weld, what would
your top two foreign policy priorities be–
recognizing there are a lot of foreign hotspots–
but pick two, please. Well, my number
one priority would be to start being
good to our allies again, instead of regularly
insulting them and cozying up to dictators and
alt-right leaders, of whom Erdogan
certainly is one. But Mr. Trump, as so
often, figures out what’s the wrong thing to
do, and then does it and then doubles down on it, like
cozying up to Putin. And he at first didn’t
like Kim in North Korea, then he found out that Kim had
killed his uncle, and he said, what a strong kid. Then he found out
that Kim had killed his own brother, the one who
was poisoned at the airport by the two young women. He said, whoa, that kid– I just I fell in
love with this kid. What about you,
governor, though? What would what would your top
foreign policy priorities be? Obviously, you disagree
with the president. You wouldn’t be running
against him if you didn’t. But how about you? What would you pick
as a top priority? Well, I think climate change
is a foreign priority. You have to deal with China
and the rest of the world, and that’s something
that has to be done. And that’s an existential
threat, not just part of our country,
but to the planet. So that would kind of
have my full attention. Then the relationship
with China would be front and center
in my thinking, but that’s the most important
bilateral relationship in the world. And you know, it lies in my
mind that Xi Jinping, when he came in, said of
the United States, we have 1,000 reasons
to be friends. I agree with him. We intersect on
entirely too many planes to try to make foreign policy
through tariffs and threats and sanctions all the time. The president’s foreign
policy is entirely negative, and his policy doesn’t rely at
all on soft power and diplomacy and on preparation for meetings. He flies into these
meetings blind. So I would pay a
lot of attention to the relationship
with China, and I think it could be across
a multitude of issues. I think the best way to solve
the North Korea issue might be with the participation
of China and South Korea as well, a regional solution. And that would obviously take
some negotiation and some doing, but it’s a
heck of a lot better than just making your
foreign policy by saying, I just slapped another
huge tariff on China. Now, we’re losing that war. Our consumers are
paying those tariffs. They’re not being
paid by the Chinese. What about
Afghanistan, governor? We noted that it’s
been 18 years this week since the US went to
war in Afghanistan. Would you be the president
that gets the US out? Yes, I would, in year one. I say that with a heavy
heart because right now, the troops that are over there– I think of them as sitting
duck nation builders, and it’s not a
country where you’re going to go build a nation. When we went in there 18
years ago, we, the CIA, called up Moscow
because we didn’t want to start World War 3 there. We said, we just
want you to know we’re going into Afghanistan,
they’re very close to you, we want to be sure we
don’t start World War 3. The Russian almost
died laughing. He said, we want to wish you
a lot of luck in Afghanistan, and whatever you do,
don’t read about what happened when we went in there. Don’t read about what happened
when the British went in there. It’s a sink, it’s a swamp. And I know the Taliban
are not nice people, to put it mildly, but talk
about a “land war in Asia.” This is a land war in
mountainous Asia as opposed to jungle Asia, but
it’s the same principle. Did you support the invasion
of Afghanistan back in 2001? I wasn’t on one
side or the other. Matter of fact, I
can’t even remember it. One more question
on foreign policy, and then I want to turn you
over to my colleague, Lauren Chooljian. We got a question from
a listener, William, who asks, how would the Weld
administration contribute to ending the war
in eastern Ukraine, and would Weld support the NATO
entry of Georgia and Ukraine? And William, it’s
a great question. Thank you for contributing. Well, right now, Ukraine is EU. It’s not a NATO ally. Yeah, I would support
Ukraine going into NATO. It would drive the
Soviets nuts, but it would have to be part of
a larger conversation. You mean Russians,
not the Soviets? Yeah, sorry. Dating myself. But I think as president,
I would tell Ukraine that I’d be there with
as much military aid as they need to deal with the
Russians in eastern Ukraine. No limits to that. And Ukraine is kind of an
informal buffer between Russia and the rest of Eastern
Europe, and that’s very important to
us, so I would be a major military ally of them. I’d be for them in NATO, and
that would not go down well with Russia, precisely
because Ukraine is a buffer between Russia and
the rest of Eastern Europe. And Russia, very obviously,
wants its boundaries to be the boundaries of the
pre-end of Cold War Soviet Union, and that’s not
something we can sit still for. We have to worry about
the Baltics, too, and I would go to Belarus and
try to pry them away from Putin so that the security
of the Baltics was not further endangered. Go ahead, Lauren. I’ll turn to you. Good morning, Governor Weld. Turning now to your
campaign, I don’t think I’m making any news here
that this is a long shot bid. You’ve acknowledged
as much yourself when you’ve come
to New Hampshire. It’s getting less long
shot all the time. It’s getting less–
we’ll get to that. So the president is
polling extremely well among the Republicans,
you know this. And so one listener,
Jessica, asked us, “What is Governor
Weld’s strategy to defeat an
incumbent president?” My strategy is to
spend a lot of time here in New Hampshire
and other key states. There are 20 states that
permit crossover voting, where Democrats and independents
can take a Republican ballot. I think the
President’s strategy is to try to have the electorate
be as narrow as possible, have it consist of
the Republican state committees, which are the Trump
Organization in each state. That’s where you get
these polls that say it’s 100 to nothing for Trump. They have a very narrow screen. My feeling is that the
Democrats and Independents have a slightly different view. Millennials, who are going to
suffer from the trillion dollar deficits, they’re going to
suffer from Trump’s inattention to climate change because
he thinks it’s a hoax– which, by the way,
is ridiculous– and have those people
vote in those primaries. So you know, in New
England, I frankly hope to win all six New
England states. I’ve been on Boston
TV for a long time, and that covers many
of those states– Vermont, Massachusetts,
our Super Tuesday states– as is California,
as is Wisconsin. So those would be
early ports of call. But I go where the action is. I’ve been to a number
of forums and debates that included
Democrats, and I’ve been the lone Republican there. And frankly, I’ve done
pretty well there– at the NAACP meeting in Detroit,
at the Association of Black Journalists in Miami– three or four of them. And so I’ve met
all the Democrats and I’ve been out
there with them, and on some of
those occasions, I think you’ll find the press
has reported that I did better than the Democrats did. So I think I can hold
my own with anybody. And now increasingly,
it’s become apparent that the president
is jangled up. At this point, I’m not sure why
he would want the job he has. He doesn’t seem to enjoy it,
and he could make such a deal for himself if he had anything
like an exit scenario– make way for Mike
Pence, make way for a governor of
South Carolina. So we’ve got your strategy. Now, you’ve been pretty clear
that the end goal, of course, is to win, but also to
weaken President Trump. But you know the history here. Incumbent presidents
who’ve faced challenges from within their own party
don’t often win re-election. But if a Democrat ends up
in the White House in 2020, are you cool with that? Well, I’m not cool with Mr.
Trump ending up in the White House in 2020, and
under no circumstances would I ever support him for
any office, federal or state. I just think the guy is cut
loose from his moorings. He doesn’t have a sense
of right and wrong. He’s absolutely heedless of
any restraint of law or custom or the Constitution. People who have worked with
him in business in New York say he thinks law
is an opponent, it’s an obstacle to be
gotten around and tricked into not applying
with his fleets and battalions of lawyers. So he’s got exactly the
wrong mindset, the wrong head on his shoulders for someone
to come in and take over the highest office in the land. And I think he poses
an existential threat to our American democracy. So I think the stakes
could not be higher. But you are running as
an R, as you call it, and so that would be
handing the White House over to the opposing party. You don’t feel any
discomfort with that? Well, who knows what’s
going to happen. Some third party might come
in– it wouldn’t be me, I’m not going to run as an
independent or third party. But if Mr. Trump– I see now the Economist poll,
a majority of the country thinks he should be not
only impeached but removed. And some much smaller
percentage, between 20% and 30% of Republicans think he
should be removed, which means convicted in the Senate. You know, when I started
this, the pundits were saying, well, if Weld can create
a problem for Trump with 20% of the Republicans,
you know, that would weaken him and probably will happen
for the sixth time in a row, that an incumbent president
who is challenged in a primary and in their own party
does not win re-election. Well, now you got 20%
that want him removed– not just not
reelected, but removed. So that’s a deep feeling. And in The Economist
poll, it was 51% of the country that
wanted him removed. That’s really remarkable. Well, there will be some states
where that feeling may not be able to be enacted
on by some voters. You know this while you wrote
an op-ed with the other two Republicans who were
running in the primary. We got a listener question
about these states like Nevada, South
Carolina, where Republicans have canceled the primary. So you called this a
“critical mistake,” so we know you’re obviously
not happy about it. But do you have
plans to challenge this decision in court? Like, what can you
do and what do you think this says about the
state of the party right now? Well, those decisions
by those state parties will be challenged
by individual voters claiming correctly that it’s a
violation of equal protection. But not you? No, I’m not going
to file lawsuits. I don’t have to. They’ll be filed by
individuals and we don’t have to underwrite that. But they’re going
to pay, they’re going to waste all the
money in litigation that they thought they
were going to gain by not holding a primary. P.S., to say, oh, we’re going
to cancel these elections because we’ll save money
on the expense of holding the election, I would have
said that holding elections was pretty essential to the
functioning of our democracy. And their other excuse– doubtless supplied by the Trump
Organization in Washington– was well, it’s not unprecedented
for a party in a state to not hold a
primary when there’s a president of their own party
running without opposition. We have two two-term Republican
governors and a congressman from Illinois, who I must say
is showing a lot of spunk, all running against
this president. So their stated reason for
canceling these primaries doesn’t apply. That’s what makes me think
it came out of Trump Central. I’m laughing about you saying
that they have a lot of spunk because I’ve seen
you on TV with them, and I don’t know, doesn’t
seem like a normal opponent. You don’t really
take jabs at them. I mean, do you see
them as your opponents, and why should someone
in New Hampshire choose you over the two of them? Well, I must say I get a
big kick out of Joe Walsh. He’s full of spirit and he’s a
real long cool glass of water. I did say the other
day that I don’t agree with my good friend,
Mark Sanford, who said he’s not in favor of impeachment. He’s not sure
whether he would vote for Mr. Trump over Mr. Biden. He said he would support Mr.
Trump if he’s the nominee. None of those things are true
of me, so there are differences. There are policy differences. Both of those men are
social conservatives. I’m a distinct not
social conservative, not a movement conservative. I’ve led the fight
for pro-choice and for LGBTQ since the 1990s. In fact, I was out
there nationally sort of by myself for 20
years on both those issues. The one time I got to address a
Republican National Convention, my theme song was, I
want the government out of your pocketbook and
out of your bedroom. That’s a very succinct statement
of my political philosophy, and it’s not theirs. Well, speaking of your
political philosophy, you’ve had to answer a lot
of questions about this. You were the Libertarian
vice presidential nominee. You’ve endorsed Democrats. You’re running as an
R, as you call it. And we got a lot of
questions about this. You’ve argued you want to make
the Republican Party great again. Well, how are
Republicans supposed to trust you’ve got their
best interests in mind? Well, I’ve always had the
same mix of positions. I’m socially open,
supportive, a huge outreach to all ethnic groups
when I was governor to make them feel part
of the situation– so please give me names of
people who you would like to have appointed to
high state office, please tell me anything
you might need, is there an industry that
needs a tax credit– whatever. And I put them in my cabinet
and appointed them as judges. When I was governor
of Massachusetts, everybody felt like they had
a stake in the enterprise, and that’s the way it should
be for the United States. And that’s why, to me,
it’s so unfortunate that the president
calculates it’s in his best political interest to divide,
to stir up resentment, to get everybody’s teeth on edge. It’s straight out
of Breitbart News, and they think the more that
people are upset and resentful and hating other
people, now that’s Mr. Trump’s definition
of a nationalist. The most important
thing to a nationalist is that your people
hate other countries. The most important
thing to a patriot is that you love your own
country and the people in it, and Mr. Trump wants to roll
back the tide of history and pretend that America
never was a melting pot. You know, Adolf Hitler said the
United States isn’t a nation, it’s a hodgepodge. And what he meant by that
was it has people in it that are not white. Unfortunately, we’ve
heard echoes of that recently with the white
nationalists, somewhat supported by Mr. Trump
and his administration. Very quickly, Governor Weld,
you have been critical, as we just heard, of the
president’s temperament and behavior, calling his
conversation with Ukraine’s president treason,
and saying on MSNBC that the penalty for treason
under the US code is death. It is. We received a question
from Richard, a listener, about that, who
says, do you regret your inflammatory remarks about
the president, about treason? Quoting Richard
here, he says, “seems like the sort of crazy
thing Trump would say.” So what do you think? You sort of jumping
in the same pit? No, I mean, I was
head of the Criminal Division of the
Justice Department, so I’m very familiar
with US criminal code. Under Title 18 of
the US criminal code, the penalty for treason
is a one word sentence. The penalty for
treason is death, and I make that point to
show that treason is serious. I also think that the
president’s attempt to induce the head
of Ukraine to dig up dirt on his political rivals
for his own political benefit, under threat of the president
withholding $400 million of military aid– which the president of
Ukraine was well aware of, it happened five days
before their phone call– and then saying, we’ve
done a lot for you, and we can do a lot
more before you– I need a favor, though. And that’s a perfect
segue that we will pick up on the whole
impeachment discussion after a short break. We’ll continue with former
Massachusetts Governor William Weld, a Republican
presidential primary candidate, in just a moment. You’re listening to The Exchange
on New Hampshire Public Radio. You’re watching Primary
2020, The Exchange Candidate Forums from NHPR, produced in
partnership with New Hampshire PBS. This is The Exchange. I’m Laura Knoy. Today, it’s the first in our
primary 2020 candidate forums, and we’re talking with
Republican presidential hopeful William Weld. He’s a former governor
of Massachusetts. NHPR’s Lauren
Chooljian is also here, asking questions
of the governor. And let’s return to what
we started talking about before the break, and
that is impeachment. And Governor Weld,
how strong a case do you think House Democrats
have in beginning this process? They have an overwhelming
case for impeachment. I’ve said many
times, it’s 10 times the case for
impeachment that existed in the instance
of Richard Nixon. The obstruction of
justice alone, as detailed in the Mueller case– 10 felonies, trying to obstruct
an investigation into himself– that would be enough. But the Ukraine inviting
foreign interference is much stronger even than that. The two things that the
framers of our Constitution were most worried
about, as you can see from the debates in
Philadelphia in 1787, were foreign interference
in our affairs and corruption of public office
by using it for private gain. You have both of
those wrapped up with a nice bow in
the case of Ukraine. In the 1970s, you
served as staff counsel to the committee
investigating Richard Nixon. I believe I read you worked
with Hillary Clinton on that. That’s correct. What similarities do
you see, Governor Weld, between then and now? Well, the one similarity in the
case against the two presidents is obstruction of the
investigation and refusal to comply with subpoenas. And in the Watergate case,
we subpoenaed all kinds of documents from the White
House, different parts of the White House. And it came back– we have six
copies of the same document come back, and the
inculpatory, the bad material would have been airbrushed
out of three of them and still left in
the other three. So we knew they had
monkeyed with the evidence and destroyed evidence, and that
was Article III of impeachment. And I would suspect
there’s going to be an article like that in
the Trump impeachment, as well. Republicans on
Fox News this week have been saying this is all
democratic “psychotic hatred,” using their words,
against the president, and hatred against the
people who voted for him. They say it’s just part of
an ongoing campaign of hate and hysteria, and that Democrats
have never gotten over the fact that Donald Trump won. What’s your message to your
fellow Republicans, including those who are watching Fox News
and saying this is just all one big anti-Donald Trump effort? Look, I harbor no ill will
towards the guy personally. I’m in this because
of the effect that I think his presidency
is having on the country. I think it’s ruinous effect. But I’m very happy
to see him return to expanding his business
empire with and for the benefit of his family. That’s something he really
seems to enjoy doing, and I think that would
be better for anybody. But there’s no
personal animus there. There’s a political
concern that the country is being dragged under. You know, I go all
over the country. Everyone in this country is
tired, and as a matter of fact, they’re exhausted. And they shouldn’t have
to put up with that. They should be able to
go about the business of their own lives. But I talk to people
on the street, and they do not want to
talk about the impeachment or the conviction or the
removal or Mr. Trump at all. They frown and they go like
that with their thumbs. But they’d like to
get about the business of their ordinary lives, and
they can’t because of him. Well, and in a few moments,
we’ll also talk about some of those issues that
voters tell us, too, that they want to talk about–
climate change, health care. But one last question on
this, Governor Weld, please. Back in April, you
called impeachment “politically impractical.” Do you still feel that way? Doesn’t sound like it. No. I think it’s now the
duty of Congress. We know a lot more
than we did in April. And I would not have entered
this campaign back in 2017 right after the
president was elected. We didn’t know enough then. But now we know how he
comports himself in office and he’s got a long track
record and it’s, in my opinion, quite threatening
to the institutions of American democracy. Lauren, I’ll go back to you. Yeah, to your point
about this exhaustion that people are
feeling, we had a survey that we put out
earlier this summer to ask New Hampshire
primary voters what we should ask candidates
when we’re out on the trail. And we got an overwhelming
amount of responses about civility, so
I found one that I think really captures it. So we had a listener
ask, “how do you plan on bringing the
country together? Include specific
plans for overcoming the partisan bickering
among leaders, as well as concrete plans to
create a unified vision to move the country forward.” So specific and
concrete, if you please. Well, I would do exactly
what I did in Massachusetts in my first week in office. I would reach across the aisle
to the Democratic leadership and to anybody else
who in Congress or had a stake in the enterprise
of governing the United States and I’d say, let’s
all get together once a week for coffee and cookies. If you’re going to be having
a social friendly meeting with somebody within
the next seven days, you’re less inclined to
stab them in the back or run to the press and
say what a jerk they are. And that worked so well during
my two terms in Massachusetts that every governor,
every speaker, every Senate
president since then has done exactly the same thing. So people say to me,
how are you going to reach across the aisle, by
which they mean everything is so poisonous in Washington, the
R’s and the D’s hate each other so much, they’re locked in
this death spiral embrace. How are you going to
reach across the aisle? The way you reach
across the aisle is you reach across the aisle. It doesn’t cost anything. It’s like cutting spending. People say, how are you
going to balance the budget? How are you going to avoid
the trillion dollar deficit? The way you avoid the trillion
deficit is by cutting spending. So that speaks to this
listener’s specific plans about partisan bickering. What about the concrete plan
request for a unified vision for moving the country? So outside of Washington,
what could you, as president, do to bring people together? Well, I think you can appoint
bipartisan commissions, you can hold hearings
on the approaches that people around the
country think best. You know, if I get
there, I’m going to have a bipartisan cabinet. It’ll have Republicans,
it’ll have Democrats, it’ll have Independents,
it’ll have unenrolleds– it might even have a Libertarian
or two, believe it or not. Potentially, [inaudible]. And what about GOP
lawmakers who aren’t going to be very happy–
very pro-Trump lawmakers, and you know as
well as anyone there are a lot of people
in this party who are very happy with the president. How do you work with them? Well, I’ve always been
an economic conservative, not only on cutting
spending, but in emphasizing pro-growth policies. I cut taxes 21 times,
I never raised them. I’m a supply-sider in
economics, like my friend Larry Kudlow, who is one
of the president’s top economic advisors. Steve Moore, also– I’ve been close with
ideologically over the years. So I would have in
common with them wanting to maximize aggregate
national wealth, which I do think is important. I might have a little
bit more of a sneaker for doing something
about income inequality than some of the very most
conservative of those folks. But I’ve always been able to
get along with the Republican National Committee
until now, because I was a economic conservative
and I produced. And before me, there were
no Republican governors for 20 years, and after me
there were four in a row. So people like what they got,
so the proof of the pudding is in the eating. But people like
Haley Barbour, who is a longtime chairman
of the party– he and I got along
like ham and eggs. And I will say also that I’ve
known the senior Republicans in the Senate for quite a while,
and I’ve raised a lot of money with them. And after the Republicans
took both houses in ’94, Newt Gingrich invited me and
a couple of other governors down to essentially
lecture the troops that you could
take tough choices and still get re-elected. And I worked with every
single committee chair on economic issues and how to
position the Republican Party, so I’ve got kind of
a long history there. Governor Weld, I’d like to
turn back to climate change which, when we were talking
about foreign policy earlier, you said this would be
a top foreign policy priority for you. So specifically,
what are two or three actions that a President Weld
would take on climate change? There’s one action
that needs to be taken, and that’s to put
a price on carbon. So a carbon tax? No, I would call it a
carbon fee because I wouldn’t want a tax where the
government keeps the money. Either by legislation
or by executive order, and I think this is a
sufficient emergency, unlike a 250 foot high wall
at the southern border, which is perhaps not an emergency. It’s a pipe dream
for the president. But this would be an
emergency, and so I think the president
could even roll this out himself or herself. You say, look,
we’re going to have a price per ton of
people putting carbon into the atmosphere. Could be $25, could
be 40, could be 50. And then they can
imagine, they can decide how much carbon they want
to put in based on that price. And that would be
upstream, meaning it would be applied at the
wellhead for oil and gas companies, at the mine
shaft for mining companies, at the loading dock
for LNG importers. Even agriculture would
have to pay a little bit because they do introduce a lot
of carbon in the atmosphere. And then with the money
that was collected there, which would be about $200
billion a year at $50 a ton, you would then remit
that to the taxpayers. And it could be by repealing
the gas tax and the diesel tax, which is aimed at
the same objective. It could be by giving everybody
a check for payroll tax relief. It could be by giving
payroll tax relief aimed at lower income
taxpayers– that’s probably what I would do to get a
free shot at reducing income inequality– and that gets
you to where you need to be. The outcome you need
is to have so much less carbon in the atmosphere that
our atmosphere temperature does not rise by more
than 1.5 degrees centigrade between now and 2050. That’s the outcome,
so anything that’s not aimed at that outcome,
to my way of thinking, is not on point. And I’ve looked at
I think virtually all of the Democratic plans,
and they’re all about inputs. Senator Sanders says he’s
going to spend $16.3 trillion– he’s number one. Senator Biden, Vice
President Biden– $1.7 trillion. He’s in last place. But they’re all talking
about how much money they’re going to spend, which
is how they approach the budget, which
is why they can’t balance the budget either. So Governor Weld, we
did receive a question from Gerald who asked
specifically about “do you support
placing a fee on carbon to reduce CO2 emissions?” Sounds like you do. Yeah, that’s my plan. I’ve heard a lot of
people talk about this. If you impose this
fee or tax or whatever you want to call it on oil
companies, on natural gas companies and so forth,
how does that not come back to the consumer, though? I mean, those companies
aren’t going to eat the cost. They’re going to pass it on to
you and me and everybody else. Yeah, it does come back to the
consumer, and it’s regressive. That’s one of the only
problems with this plan, which is why you address
the regressive by when you’re giving the money back. So it collects only, you
know, $200 billion a year, and yet the payroll tax
collects 13.5 trillion. So there’s plenty of room to
give all that back to taxpayers so it’s revenue neutral. So you give me back
the money that I might have to spend because of that? Or you could target it
at lower income taxpayers so that it would address the
question of regressiveness. So I could just decide to
take that money and, you know, buy a less fuel efficient car. I mean, I could
just take the money and use it to spend
it on more carbon. Do you see what I’m saying? I’m not sure how that reduces
overall carbon consumption. Except as an individual,
you’re not a major emitter of carbon into the atmosphere. And the fact that your carbon
footprint may not be neutral– that’s not as much a part of the
problem as the amount of carbon that the coal and
oil and gas companies put in the atmosphere. One more question on
this, and then I’ll throw it back to Lauren. What about nuclear
power, Governor Weld? We did a show on this last week. It was real interesting. Would your administration
push for more nuclear? Because as you know,
the federal government has a major role in this,
since it has oversight through the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission. I absolutely would. I think nuclear should be about
25% of the base in our grid. And I’m not talking about
gigantic nuclear plants, I’m talking about vest
pocket nuclear plants. And people are
nervous about nuclear because they think of Fukushima
and the huge horrible accident there. Well, that was a
ginormous plant– more than one plant– built on a barrier reef. How stupid is that? So the first big wave comes
in, and they’re all washed away and corroded and
it’s a disaster. What’s vest pocket nuclear? Small. So-called Generation
IV, and some of these eat their own
waste, so you don’t have to worry about the
problem of nuclear waste. But you know, Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez– her first draft of the Green
New Deal had nuclear in it, and then all the
extremely beautiful people said you can’t do that
because nuclear is dirty, because it makes waste. Well, that’s a
problem that we could solve with Yucca Mountain,
now that Harry Reid isn’t the majority leader
in the Senate anymore. I myself think it’s
going to be solved by technological developments
and carbon capture and sequestration. Probably the bottom
of the ocean is going to be the end, or
maybe these Gen IV, Gen V nuclear plants that
consume their own waste. So that problem is well on
its way to being solved, and people have been
saying for a long time, if only they could
invent something that had zero carbon
emissions and could generate an infinite amount of power. They did. It’s called the
atom, and we just have to change our mindset. And that would be a
place for the president to use the bully pulpit
and the appointments to the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission and Nuclear Regulatory Commission to
get people who are not skittish about nuclear power. Well, it’s interesting because
the Pilgrim nuclear plant in your home state
recently shut down. Now there’s only two plants
left online here in New England. So we could talk about this
for a whole other hour. Just one point– I
mean, I know a lot of counties that are wide open,
that even have a nuclear plant already. Upstate New York comes to mind– Otsego, Oswego counties. They would love a nuclear
plant, another one, because they know it’s a great
neighbor, great employer, really no problems, no risk. I’m sorry, it’s a
myth that these things are terribly dangerous. Well, “no risk” might be
stretching it a little bit. Well, if it’s small plants
and with the new technology, really it’s not going
to have much risk. Let’s turn it back
to you, Lauren. Yes, switching
gears now to guns. I have to say I’m
a little confused about your position on guns,
because on the one hand, as governor and in
the ’90s, you proposed some of the tightest gun
control laws in the country. But then on the other hand,
you indicated recently when you were in New Hampshire
that the Second Amendment– you see it as a
way for the public to protect itself against
government overreach. So help me thread
the needle here. Where are you on these things? I do think it was my time
with the Libertarian ticket that brought it home to me
that the gun issue involves self-defense and
not just hunting. But as far as what
we should do now to address the mass
shootings, I think the best ticket is the red flag
laws that give either a family member or coworker or anyone
else the right to go to a judge and say, this person
has six guns at home, they’re carrying around a list
of people they’d like to kill, they have a history of violence
and maybe domestic violence, but there’s evidence
they have a screw loose. They have expressed support and
sympathy for Islamic jihad– whatever. And this is not a
made up example. And several of the
shootings a few years ago, not even under
Mr. Trump, the FBI had investigations
of the shooter, and they had to close them and
so they couldn’t pursue them. But I would probably
have more FBI agents so they could work on
the pool of these people. And so that’s calculated
to keep a weapon, and all weapons are dangerous. It’s not just rifles. Anyway, you can get killed just
as dead with a Derringer as you can with a .30-06 rifle. And keep them out of
the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. You see what I
mean though, here? You’re in a lot of buckets. How hard is it going to be when
you’re talking to Republicans, Libertarians– very
different views, especially in New Hampshire,
on the ability to own a gun. How do you have
those conversations? No, I’m not saying go
after gun ownership. There are 300 million
rifles out there in private hands that
were lawfully acquired, and if the government says, we
want all those to be licensed and you have to come in and
show it to the police chief every year– down the road, year
three, four, five– I wouldn’t be surprised
if the police chief says, Harry, it’s nice to see you,
but this year, that rifle– that .22 rifle–
is staying with us. It’s been done in
other countries, and what usually
happens is people who were opposed to the
regime get slaughtered. Hitler made it impossible
for the Jews to own firearms, so when the knock
came at the door in the middle of the night,
they got sent to the camps. They couldn’t resist. Joe Stalin in
Russia, even worse. So what about in the ’90s,
some of the other things that you proposed was a
ban on assault weapons. Where are you on that now? Is that something that, as
president, you’d bring back? If assault weapon means an
automatic weapon, or something with such force that it
obviously has no sporting use, yeah. But you know, a regular
rifle doesn’t, in my view, become an assault weapon
because you take a picture of it with a tripod underneath it. There was a definition
of assault weapon, I think, in the 1994 crime bill. We might need to go
back and look at that. Well, coming up, more of
our 2020 primary candidate forum with former Massachusetts
Governor William Weld. We’re going to talk about health
care and a couple other issues, and we’ll keep folding in
questions that listeners submitted in advance. More of The Exchange
is coming up in just a moment on New
Hampshire Public Radio. You’re watching Primary
2020, The Exchange Candidate Forums from NHPR, produced in
partnership with New Hampshire PBS. This is The Exchange. I’m Laura Knoy. Joining me today,
NHPR’s Lauren Chooljian, with a special broadcast,
the first in our primary 2020 candidate forums, this
time with Republican and former Massachusetts
Governor William Weld. And Governor, let’s
turn to health care. A listener, Sue,
asks very simply, how would you fix health care? Well, I wouldn’t repeal
the Affordable Care Act. It had added 20 million people
to the rolls of the insured, and that was a major blow for
truth, freedom, and justice in terms of lowering
costs, so you don’t want to throw the
baby out with the bath. I do think there’s
too much government in the structure of
the regulatory system as it now exists. I would want to
put, as usual, power in the hands of individuals,
and say that individuals could have health
savings accounts, and they could put away money
on a tax-advantaged basis, like retirement accounts,
which we already have. And they could set
aside as much money as they wanted to guard against
a potential catastrophic health event in their family. That way, you wouldn’t have
to have the government telling everybody, as is now the case,
you need a Cadillac plan. Everybody has to have a
Cadillac plan under the ACA. If they want to have
a Chevrolet plan, they should be able to do that. And people make that kind
of decision for themselves all the time. The Affordable Care Act, as you
know, includes the exchanges. This is a private option
we can go on a marketplace, get a subsidy if you’re
of moderate to low income. So that sounds kind of like
what you’re talking about, Governor Weld– a Cadillac plan or
a lower-tier plan. So how is what you’re suggesting
different from what is already offered under the
exchanges on the ACA? No, I’m saying that you should
have a tax advantage for people putting away money in these
private personal savings accounts, so they’re
making the decision. And starting to say people
make that kind of decision all the time. If they’re buying
insurance, you know, somebody who can’t take a
hit wants no deductible, somebody who wants to pay
less for the insurance wants a high deductible. And there’s a
bunch of other sort of government restrictions
in the current system that I don’t understand. I don’t understand why we
can’t buy health insurance across state lines,
I don’t understand why people can’t go to Canada
to buy prescription drugs. Of late, I have been
coming around to the view that Medicare should have the
ability to negotiate prices with Big Pharma. Big Pharma did not acquit
itself satisfactorily, in my view, when they
testified before the House, and really were not able to
explain why they’re charging us three times as much
in the United States as they do in Germany. Talking about selling
plans across state lines, as you know, insurance
commissioners around the country
oppose this idea. It could erode state
consumer protections, lead to skimpy coverage,
higher premiums, so the insurance commissioners
don’t like this idea. What’s your response? But they’re defending
their kingdom. It’s like the guild mentality. People who got in there
and established their trade in a guild, they didn’t want
anyone else getting in there and qualifying to join
their guild because they wanted to divide up
the profits themselves. Importing drugs from Canada– I’d love to talk to you
about that a little bit more. Canada has said, first of
all, just very specifically, if this were to happen, they’d
be overwhelmed by demands from the American market. So how feasible is that really? I don’t know. I think they could
probably get more drugs to sell if it looked like
a very lucrative venture for the Canadians. There’s a systemic issue,
in addition to would they have the supply. Drugs are cheaper in
Canada, as you know, because people have
universal health coverage and the government
regulates prices. So to say let’s import
drugs from Canada, that comes with a whole
different system attached. Governor Weld, it’s not
just about the drugs. You’re a free market
guy, so are you saying let’s import the Canadian
health system writ large? No, no. Not at all. Don’t like those wait times. I’m just saying
this is a commodity, and people should
be able to buy it. I’m not talking about
importing a system. But the drugs are cheap
because of the system. But the drugs are cheaper. OK, I don’t know if
we’re going to be able to get out of this one. But lastly, as you know, the
pharmaceutical companies have said, look, we charge
full price in America to cover those important
research and development costs. And if we can’t
charge those costs and we have to charge reduced
rates like we do elsewhere, we’ll never be able to invest
in important cancer drugs and so on and so forth, Governor Weld. I’m sure you’ve
heard this before– for every successful
drug, there’s lots of drugs that
never make it to market. Pharma is not going
to like your idea to import drugs from Canada. They say they need
that profit margin. Well, I understand. I don’t think it’s
that big a dollar item. And if they’re saying
we have to charge US consumers for the costs
of research worldwide, I’m not sure why that
should be just US consumers. You mentioned health
savings accounts, and certainly that is a feature
in today’s health care system. They help you pay,
Governor Weld, but they don’t really
lower the overall cost. So it’s still expensive, I’ve
just saved up for an expense that many Americans
say is too much. So how does health
savings accounts really help to the bigger problem,
lowering health care costs? Well, they help you pay, sure. But pay something that
is incredibly expensive? Well, if you want to lower costs
as opposed to helping you pay, then you don’t have the
government telling everyone they have to have a
Cadillac plan, which is the current system. Let’s move on to
the opioid crisis. Again, this is kind
like nuclear power. We could talk about
this for a long time. I do want to ask you
about drug policy. You support marijuana
legalization, including serving on the board
of a marijuana and cannabis investment firm. States’ rights. If Alabama doesn’t
want to legalize it, Alabama shouldn’t
have to legalize it. So you’re not in favor
of federal legalization, but state by state? I am in favor of taking
it off schedule 1, so it’s not a complete felony
and you can’t even study it. I have taken it on myself
to study the research that’s been done in Israel
over the last 30 years with essentially a 20,000
person human trial. And the health benefits, as
disclosed by Hebrew University in Jerusalem, are staggering. When they introduce CBD
with other cytotoxins, which are tumor-killing agents,
into cancer patients, they make the
tumor-killing agents three times as effective. That is not just
addressing the pain of cancer victims,
that’s curing cancer, killing the tumor cells. So you’re saying the research
for the health benefits marijuana are promising? It exists, it’s just been
illegal to study cannabis in this country forever. It’s kind of a hangover from
“Reefer Madness” in the ’30s and ’40s, in my view. You know, the only place
that’s allowed to even grow it is the University of
Mississippi, until recently. Well, here in New
Hampshire, Governor, we’re in the midst, as you
know, of an opioid crisis. And many people in recovery
from substance abuse have said, don’t legalize pot. That’ll make our state’s
addiction problem worse. You’ll be easing access
to yet another drug. What’s your response to those
people that we’ve spoken to? I don’t agree with that. I think it’s been approved so
much that CBD, for example, any cannabis as a whole– Well, CBD is legal,
so we’re talking about marijuana, the THC, not
CBD, which is perfectly legal. So for PTSD of veterans,
why they should not be able to smoke cannabis,
which absolutely addresses their ill– right now, the
Veterans Administration law is if they do, and report it to
their case agent, so to speak, they get bounced out of VA, and
can’t even go to a VA hospital. And there’s a lot of people
who have abused it for pain, it addresses any disease
with spasticity– childhood epilepsy,
Parkinson’s, MS– I think it’s madness
not to take advantage of the curative properties
of this substance. One more question for you– I think it’s political, frankly. –about opioids. The federal government has
invested a lot of money in treatment here
in New Hampshire. We’re in the first year
of a two-year $46 million grant, so lots of money now
going out to expand treatment, prevention, and recovery. These are largely federal
dollars, Governor Weld. How much say should the
federal government have over how these dollars are spent? Well, I don’t know. I think the states can be
laboratories of democracy. It’s been one of my
themes in public life. Governor Charlie Baker, who
succeeded me in Massachusetts and is now the
governor, I thought did a great job on
addressing opioids. He got everybody in a room,
including the manufacturers, the doctors, he cracked heads. He said, OK, you doctors, you
have to accept protocols now for what and how much
you can prescribe based on condition A, B, and
C, and he really had an impact. And I think, as so often,
that can be a national model. We did it with welfare
reform and education reform. We created national models
when I was in office. So I would allow the states
to experiment and be creative. Lauren, go ahead. And so moving from
the opiate crisis– I mean, that crisis has
devastated many economies around New Hampshire, and so
I want to ask you specifically how, as president, you would
help some more rural economies across the country. We got a question
from Mary Lou, who says recent census information
shows 38% of New Hampshire children under five in a
female-headed household live in poverty. And she wants to know what’s
your plan to reduce poverty? To reduce poverty? Oh, I was going to say
a couple of days ago, I visited a community health
center in New Hampshire, which does marvelous work for
disadvantaged families– the whole panoply of curative
and preventative measures. For poverty, one
of the first things I did when I got into office was
to quadruple the Earned Income Tax Credit, which is kind
of like a negative income tax for people at the bottom– wage earners, but at the
bottom rung of the ladder. And it’s an obsession
with me to make sure that the door to
the middle class is not slammed shut in the
face of the working poor. And Charlie Baker and I–
he was my top finance guy– we’ve just spent
endless hours worriting about the person who has a
job that pays $29,000 a year and has a family of four. That person is living below
the federal poverty level, and I think we have
tens of millions of people in this
country right now living below the federal poverty level. And if you give them
payroll tax relief, if you increase the
Earned Income Tax Credit, you can make a start there. I hear you’re
sensitive to this idea that you don’t want the federal
government to be overreaching too much. But is there a role
for them at all here, or in other
issues that we deal with here in New Hampshire,
like affordable housing? Sure. I mean, Claire Meunier,
one of my advisors here, has taught me a lot about the
Low Income Housing Tax Credit. By the way, the two
things I mentioned– the Earned Income Tax Credit– You could do that
on a federal level. Those are federal. That’s federal, absolutely. So no, I think
there’s a big role for the federal government. And historically, I wasn’t
leading the parade on equality, everybody’s got to be
equal– because everyone doesn’t have to be equal. On the other hand, I now support
measures to directly address income inequality for
reasons of social cohesion. And it partly goes
back to the extent to which the country is now
divided, and people, as I say, have their teeth set on edge
and they resent other groups. Partly, that’s
because of the vitriol that’s spewing out of the White
House and the Oval Office. But it’s not good for business. So you know, you can support
income redistribution, greater income inequality
on moral grounds, and I would agree with you. But I would add that it’s
good on prudential grounds to guard against further
ripping of the social fabric. And the social
fabric is something we’ve kind of turned our backs
on in the last three years. We just have a couple minutes
left, hard to believe. And I did want to
ask you, what do you think President
Trump has done well? Well, he and I have sort of
the same take on the economy. As I say, I’m a supply-sider
and a pro-growth guy, and I think he is too. He says he is. And some of his
economic advisors are people who I’ve
been making common cause with over the years. And the unemployment
rate is in a good spot, and that’s a very
important thing. You know, the best
social program is a job, and whether or not his policies
have been pro-employment– and I think they
generally have– I would certainly continue,
and even adorn that. Sounds like you’re on par
with the president in terms of economic policy. We did receive several
questions from listeners about the deficit and concern
that it is growing too much. Yeah, I’m not on par
with the deficit. Because the tax
cuts and so forth? Well, no. That’s a national
security issue. We can’t allow ourselves to
depend on foreign governments to buy our treasury bills. And if you keep running these
deficits– and by the way I was rated the most fiscally
conservative governor in the United States
when I was in office, so I did the opposite
of running deficits. I’ve long been a champion of a
balanced budget Constitutional amendment at the federal level. So no, really the
first thing I would do is to close the
trillion dollar deficit. And someone who
doesn’t recognize sacred cows in
the budget because of not being a
creature of Washington can do that very quickly. I did it in
Massachusetts because I was new to state
government, so I didn’t know there were sacred cows. That’s what you’ve got to have. It’s just a question
of political will. It’s not hugely
complex economics to balance the budget. Go ahead, Lauren. I’ll throw it back to you. All right, we’re
ending on a fun note. I got two quick
questions for you. First is I understand you’re a
huge fan of the Grateful Dead– which live according to
you listen to the most? American beauty and Grateful
Dead are my two favorites. But there’s some long riffs
between Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, which are probably
my favorite individual live recordings. All right. And then I understand you’re
an author– you’ve written three novels, I believe. So let’s say you’re president. You decided to start a
book club a la Oprah. What book would you
suggest that we all read? Well, I don’t think
you’d like it. But my taste runs
to Ford Madox Ford and “Parade’s End,” which
is a tetralogy of novels set in World War I. If you
want to have a good time, reread the Great Gatsby. That’s a real upper. So what would we all get
out of The Great Gatsby as citizens of America? Fun. No, I’m the one who wants to
put the fun back in everything, including even fundraising. That’s how much I like fun. You heard it here first. Governor Weld, in
terms of fun, would you do to make the
White House more fun? Would you bring in
pets, would you– Pets! You mentioned the cookie
parties that you used to have. Well, we would have our
ginormous Australian cattle dog as First Pet. But I think probably the
thing you would notice is we would have lots
of musical concerts. My wife and I are both
just totally music junkies, and we would bring in
bands from all over. Matter of fact, you may see
that during the campaign. I’ve heard that there are
a number of tribute bands– you know, Rolling Stones
addicted or Grateful Dead addicted– in New Hampshire,
and I think you may see, speaking
of vest pocket, some vest pocket rallies
with us and local bands. What’s your thought,
Governor Weld, that you want to leave
fellow Republicans with? Again, you are running
in a Republican primary. Here’s your chance to
say to Republicans, I’m not going to spoil it for
you, losing the White House– I’m going to win it, and
you should vote for me. Republicans. Right. Well, I think I’ve
shown that I can do the job that needs to be done. I think I could start Monday. I think I’m more grounded
on foreign policy than people who are running
the show now, certainly in terms of experimentation. Having been a governor for two
terms is a really good start, and you see a lot of
different approaches. And I would take
great joy in it, and I’m doing this not to
feather my own nest, not to help my hotels
around the world. I’m doing it to improve
the lot of the United States, the country I love. All right, we’ll
have to end it there. Thank you, Lauren, for
being with me today. Thanks, Laura. And a special thank you to our
guest, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts
Governor William Weld. Governor, thank you. Thank you Laura,
thank you Lauren. And thank you for our
audience for joining us. This is The Exchange on NHPR. [music playing] This has been a New
Hampshire Primary 2020 special presentation,
The Exchange Candidate Forums from NHPR. [music playing]

2 thoughts on “Bill Weld: GOP Presidential Primary Candidate

  1. 24/7 365 Negative coverage of TRUMP and people like you adding to the FIRE.
    I have to assume that a man as intelligent as you, is a PURPOSEFUL, CALCULATED, METHODICAL Piece of the SOFT COUP. Your POLITICAL CAREER is OVER Homie .

    You are not just a DEEP STATE SCHILL, you are OUT of TOUCH with what the VOTERS want.

  2. Marvellous Job, I compleatly enjoyed it!, See this New Album 'Monish Jasbird – Death Blow', channel link , you can try 🙂

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