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Ahead Of Presidential Primaries, Ex-Governor Sees Massachusetts As 'Relatively Bill-Weld-Friendly'

William Weld in the Massachsuetts Statehouse in 2016.
William Weld in the Massachsuetts Statehouse in 2016.

With Super Tuesday just days away, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld is campaigning in his home state, as well as Vermont. Weld is running a longshot bid in the Republican primary, against President Donald Trump.

New England Public Radio's Carrie Healy caught up with Weld on the phone Thursday, in-between campaign stops in Vermont. Weld said his campaign views Massachusetts "as relatively Bill-Weld-friendly."

Earlier this week, Weld won the endorsement of the Boston Globe editorial board. He said that was not a surprise.

Former Governor Bill Weld: You know, I think that the Globe probably cares about things like environmental protection and rule of law and not, you know, trying to shove our European allies into the Russian orbit. And, well might they care about those things...It's a very nice thing. You like to have the Globe's endorsement in Massachusetts, but I would not call it a complete surprise, no.

Carrie Healy, NEPR: The current governor of Massachusetts considers you his mentor. Are you looking or hoping for an endorsement from Charlie Baker?

You know, I have not asked him. I think Governor Baker considers that he has a fiduciary relationship towards the citizens of Massachusetts. And this president, President Trump, has shown himself to be so vindictive that I think Governor Baker could well be forgiven for having in mind that he doesn't want to have federal funding from all the cabinet agencies of Donald Trump frozen from Massachusetts, which is a entirely possible result from a Baker endorsement. So we're not we're not going to air that one.

At a recent campaign stop in Massachusetts, the shortage of seasonal workers on Cape Cod came up, and your reply was — something to the effect of — that if you become president, you would make more work visas for immigrants available. Have you had similar conversations with western Mass. businesses or farmers?

Well, no. I made the point that tourism is a major industry in the Northeast. And in the western half of the country, the need for immigrant visas is for construction and agriculture. In the Northeast, it's to support the tourism industry. And that applies right across the board. It applies to western Mass. It applies to the state of Maine. It certainly applies to the Cape and Islands. You know, you see a lot of lobster shacks shuttered because we can't find temporary help [with signs reading], "We'll be open in two days when our temporary help can come back."

We need more [of] what I believe are called H2B visas, which are seasonal visas for four or five months, and people can come and work for the season and then go back south of the border. Because they don't want to stay here. They don't want to be citizens. It's only Donald Trump who says, "Oh, all these 11 million illegal aliens, they all want to be citizens immediately without waiting in line." That's kind of a scare tactic, like a lot of things that Mr. Trump says about how Mexicans are all murderers and rapists and they're coming to take your job and then they're gonna harass your wife. It's just pure polemics and politics on the part of the president.

You've said you won't vote for Trump. If you were voting in the Democratic primary, who would you want?

You know, I think I'm going to leave that to the Democrats. It's certainly a complex situation, and there are a lot of people there with substance. So I'm going to wait and see what the Democrats, what they come up with. That's not really what I'm about. I'm about that I'm available as an alternative to Mr. Trump in the Republican primary.

So what's the message that you want your candidacy to send to the Republican Party?

Well, the message is the job of the president is to make everyone feel good about being an American. It's not to divide them and set them against each other and tear the social fabric. The only reason you would do that is if you were planning essentially a hostile takeover of the democratic institutions in the United States. And I'm so sorry to say so, but I think that may be part of what's in Mr. Trump's mind, his thinking. So I think the stakes are pretty high here, which is why I'm in it.

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