Who is Bill Weld? 20 Questions for 2020 with the Candidate
As a fiscal and economic conservative with a plan for tackling the climate crisis, Weld is campaigning to secure the Republican nomination against Trump.
Bill Weld, 74, is a former Massachusetts governor who is challenging Trump in the GOP primary. He sat down with NowThis and talked about being against abortion bans, his plan for climate change, past work with LGBTQ youth, and more questions you want to know.
NowThis: Who are you?
Weld: So I'm Bill Weld. I'm actually running for the Republican nomination for president against Mr. Trump. I'm the real Republican. I think Donald Trump is the “RINO,” Republican in name only. I was governor of Massachusetts for a couple of terms and spent seven years under Ronald Reagan in the Justice Department. I'm a fiscal conservative, an economic conservative. I do believe that just like every taxpayer and every family in America, the United States government should balance its budget.
2. Why are you challenging Trump for the Republican nomination?
I think he's been a disaster, ripping up treaties that he didn't understand, insulting our allies, cozying up to our enemies. You know, he says, “I’m a nationalist,” and a nationalist is someone for whom the most important thing is that everybody hate other countries and other peoples. For a patriot, and for him to claim the mantle of patriotism is ludicrous. For a patriot, the most important thing is to love your own country and your fellow citizens. That is not Donald Trump. If you’re Muslim, if you’re Black, if you’re Hispanic, and you’re American, Donald Trump has virtually no use for you because you’re not part of his “lily white,” dare I say, “Aryan Nation” the one that he would prefer. So he is the opposite of a patriot.
3. What’s your favorite curse word?
Sonny Jim. It's my favorite curse words, an old Boston phrase.
4. How do you differ from other Republicans on social issues?
You know, abortion, the most important decision a woman’s ever going to make for herself is whether to bear child or not. And the idea that you know these recent statutes; Alabama, Georgia, elsewhere, fully supported by the Trump administration, say that a rapist has rights superior to the rights of the woman he raped. It's totally unthinkable. Like a lot of things that come out of the Trump administration these days, it takes us back to the Stone Age.
5. Having run on a 3rd party ticket in 2016, do you feel responsible for Trump?
No, no, I—our ticket in 2016, I ran with Gary Johnson on the Libertarian ticket
and we got 4 and a half million votes, which was triple the previous best showing of that party. And if you think about it a vote for the Libertarian Party is going to be either a change vote or a protest vote.It's not business as usual in Washington D.C. So the polling showed that three out of four of our votes came from Mr. Trump.
6. You’ve said Trump has committed “treason.” How so?
I think his calling up the President of Ukraine and berating him 8 times in a single conversation shortly after Mr. Trump had ordered the suspension of $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, who were engaged in a bitter armed conflict with Russia. And he said he wanted the president to facilitate the digging up of dirt on Hunter Biden, who's Joe Biden's son.
And that amounts to the President of the United States basically election rigging it in his own favor. It doesn't get much worse than that.
7. Which actor should play you in your bio pic?
Well, I don't know, Nick Nolte. Young Robert Redford, although my hair wasn't that long. Probably Nick Nolte.
8. If your presidency could only tackle one issue, what would it be?
It probably would be climate change because that's an existential threat to the planet. I think what we have to do is put a price on carbon. That would collect about $200 billion a year at a price of $40 to $50 a ton, and that would then be remitted to the taxpayers so that this would not be a tax. So it would be a fee on carbon
9. What’s something big you’ve changed your mind about?
Not really a lot. I came in very early for LGBTQ rights. One of the first acts I did as governor was to create a commission on gay and lesbian youth because we’d had just an epidemic of teenage suicides by gays and lesbians who were just bullied to the point of suicide in middle school and high school, and everyone had turned a cold shoulder to that, they didn't want to take it on as a cause, and I absolutely took it on as a cause.
10. Can you tell us about someone you love?
I love my wife to pieces, and I love her to pieces because she's the most compelling person I've ever met, and extremely kind person, always thinking about other people. And animals,
truth be told, and grasses and rocks. She's just brimming over with empathy.
11. Can you tell us about your novel writing?
Mark Twain said write what you know. I wrote what I knew: politics and law enforcement. The first one was kind of a cops and robbers novel, the second was a sequel [with] the same character when he gets to Washington as a senator. The third one was totally different. It’s about my love of the land. I often say the outdoors is my cathedral, and it's a coming of age novel with a 15-year-old boy as the central figure. And it has a very tough surprise ending, you’re just going to have to buy the book.
12. What’s a tough question every candidate should have to answer?
What are you going to do about global warming? I think virtually all the Democratic plans
on global warming are deficient because they're measuring only how much money they're going to spend. And that's what putting a price on carbon along the lines I've discussed would do
13. From a previous interview, Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke asks: What will you do on gun reform?
Well I think we can't do nothing in the face of these massive mass murders, which have picked up in intensity since Mr. Trump has been in office. I think we need to have red flag statutes that will give either family members or co-workers who spot something odd about someone, a gun owner. One of the shooters in one of the mass murders not so long ago had carried around a list in high school of all the people he'd like to kill. You know you can't have that guy carrying a weapon.
14. What do people get wrong about you?
They think I'm patrician and from privilege, and that I therefore act that way and don't act boldly and don't act decisively. That's a bad miscalculation.
15. When have you been starstruck?
I think the first time I met Jack Kemp, who of course was a legendary quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. I was starstruck because he was kind of a political hero of mine.
16. What’s your plan to reform health care?
I think we need to have less government in the system. But it also needs to be acknowledged that the Affordable Care Act added 20 million people to the rolls of the insured. That's a major step forward from the point of view of cost containment. I have espoused the creation of health savings accounts so people could put away money on a tax-advantaged basis.
And people should be able to make their own decisions. They should be able to buy drugs in Canada not have the government tell them no. They should be able to buy insurance across state lines and not have the state insurance commissioners tell them no. So put more power back in the hands of the people and their doctors.
NowThis: Do you support the so-called public option?
Yeah I'm getting there. I would say I'm getting closer to that. Not there yet, I'm still examining that.
17. Why should voters consider electing yet another white man this year?
Well, they don't have to. I sometimes rail against the white men who Congress charges with making decisions, for example, on behalf of women who they don't know, who lived
1,200 miles away. But I don't think there's anything really wrong with it. Anything wrong with being a Muslim or a Hispanic or a woman of color in Congress — Mr. Trump seems to think there's something wrong with all three of those things because he of course wants us to hate everyone who's not a white man.
18. How many hours of sleep do you get?
I often get five to six if I'm on a campaign schedule, preferably seven to eight.
19. Why should Republicans who voted for Trump vote for you instead?
I'm a bomb thrower in the political sense, and would very much shake things up in Washington D.C. To be candid, I turned everything upside down when I got in as governor. And I went from Massachusetts being literally bankrupt to having a huge surplus and being able to spend money on my priorities, which were education social services. I reduced taxes 21 times and people appreciated that.
20. What’s your message to young voters?
I'm hopeful that Millennials and Gen Xers will be attracted to my banner, and a reason I would give is that you folks will bear the brunt of trillion dollar deficits. You're never gonna see Social Security unless something is done about those deficits, and you're the people who are going to bear the brunt of climate change if nothing is done to forestall it. So I think those two issues alone are enough reason for you all to come out and vote. And I invite you to vote in the Republican primary and to cast a vote for me, which is by definition a vote against Mr. Trump,
because I don't think he's set a tone that you would want at the top in this country. It really is a tone filled with resentment, fear, anger, even hatred is not too strong a word. That's not what you want. We're all better than that. So I hope you consider my candidacy. Thank you very much.