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Bill Weld Says Mueller Report Won't Affect His Decision To Run Against Trump In Primary

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is considering a run against President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.

Weld has launched an exploratory committee, but has yet to make an official announcement. Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Weld about Special Counsel Rober Mueller's report and which of Trump's policies he opposes.

(Below is a transcript of the NHPR interview.)

I first wanted to get your reaction to the Mueller report. Of course that came out over the weekend. The full report obviously has not been made public yet, but based on what's out now there appears to be no finding of collusion against the president and his campaign and no conclusion on whether the president committed obstruction of justice. Does that take the wind out of the sails of your potential candidacy?

Quite the contrary. I think it's a relief to the country to find that the man who was elected president didn't conspire with a hostile power to procure his own election. I'm glad that result was reached for the sake of the country. So it's neither here nor there from my point of view in considering whether to pull the trigger and go ahead with a full blown run against Mr. Trump.

Are you waiting for more results though from this? I mean obviously we've just got a four page summary at this point.

No I wouldn't say I'm waiting. But I certainly agree with 422-0 vote in the House of Representatives that the full report should be made public, that the public has a right to know what [were] the details of those 100 contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians and what was the result of the 35,000 subpoenas and interviews.

The speech you gave here in New Hampshire when you announced your exploratory committee was a lot about what you don't like about President Trump. Aside from casting yourself as a Trump alternative, what specific policy issues are you offering voters?

Well I would be an economic conservative in Washington, by which I mean I would cut spending and cut taxes. And you know, I did approve of the tax cut that went through under President Trump, and I would have voted for, if I was in the Senate, for both of his nominees to the Supreme Court. But it kind of ends there. You know, I don't think he's doing a good job domestically in terms of keeping the budget under control. I don't think he's doing a good job internationally. He seems to go out of his way to insult our allies. You know the newly elected prime minister of Canada, he called him weak and stupid. You just don't do that sort of thing. I think pulling us out of the Paris climate accords was a bad idea. I think the failure to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a group of 12 countries facing the Pacific that did not include China. I think that was a great mistake. During the campaign in 2016, the president appeared not to know that China would not be a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So at home and abroad I don't think the right policies are being pursued.

Obviously for his base [there are] a lot of positives there. There are certainly lots of Trump voters who may be turned off by that tone over the past two years, but they still like his agenda. Can you give an example of one Trump Administration policy where you have a really strong disagreement and one trump policy where you'd want to carry on?

Well I think what the president said the other day about political correctness running amok on college campuses, I associate myself with that view. I think it's very troubling that the president seeks actively to divide the American people as opposed to unite them, and pit group against group. He's obviously made a calculation that that suits his political advantage. But I think it's really unbecoming in a president of the U.S. to put it mildly.

You promised in 2016 that you'd be a Libertarian forever. You have supported Democrats in the past. Why should Republicans here in New Hampshire believe you represent them?

Well, they can listen to my message of economic conservatism, of free trade, engagement abroad and make their own judgment. I think a problem we have in Washington today is that the two parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, they really demonize each other. And they exist only for the purpose of killing the other party and stirring up their base so their base will make political campaign contributions to them so they can get re-elected. And they're obsessed with getting re-elected, and that's not my style.

Do you think Republican voters here in New Hampshire might be more receptive to your message than voters in another part of the country?

Well, I think they might be. I mean, I'm a real New Englander. I was born in New York but I grew up in in New England. I'm a real outdoorsman to the extent that I am on the freedom side of the Republican Party. That's consistent with New Hampshire's motto of Live Free or Die. I feel at home here. And so I think yeah. I think people can see that I'm a frankly New Hampshire kind of guy.

Are you a Yankee Republican? I don't know if that term still means anything.

Yeah, I don't know. I consider myself certainly a New England Republican.

Has the Republican Party in New England changed in the last say 20-25 years, in the last generation?

Well, a lot of the Republicans who I grew up with are no longer there, but I still think that New England is a bastion of proper thinking.

What do you mean by that?

Well, just being reasonable -- we don't get into great fights and divisiveness. We go about our own business and we're welcoming of other people. You know, the "we hate everybody else". I don't associate that with New Englanders at all.

Listen to the unedited version of Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley's interview with former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld.

For many radio listeners throughout New Hampshire, Rick Ganley is the first voice they hear each weekday morning, bringing them up to speed on news developments overnight and starting their day off with the latest information.
Mary McIntyre is a senior producer at NHPR. She manages the station's news magazines, Morning Edition and All Things Considered. You can email her at mmcintyre@nhpr.org.

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