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Trump Challenger Bill Weld: 'I'm A New England Republican' And Voters Know What That Means

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Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is challenging President Donald Trump in the GOP primary.

Not all of the presidential campaigning this primary season is on the Democratic side. A few Republicans are challenging President Trump. One who’s best known to New England is Bill Weld, former governor of Massachusetts.

Weld is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. He ran for Vice President as a Liberatarian in 2016, and he says that’s the sort of thing that plays well among New England voters. He’s trailing Trump badly in the polls, but is spending a lot of time in New Hampshire talking to voters about issues like immigration and climate change.

He spoke with John Dankosky on the New England News Collaborative's NEXT. What follows are some highlights of their conversation.

Weld on challenging a popular Trump in New Hampshire, in a GOP climate that is far more conservative than when Weld was governor:

"The leadership up there projects as very conservative because it's Trump's organization. So it projects as whatever Trump is. The New Hampshire Republican party - members of the Republican party - taken as a whole are still 65 percent pro-choice on the issue of reproductive rights. That may not be typical of southern states or other states in the country, but it is true of New Hampshire. And when I say to people up there, ‘I’m a New England Republican,' they know exactly what I mean. I mean fiscally conservative, socially open, tolerant, welcoming and supportive.  That's what New England Republican means, and that’s not a dirty word in New Hampshire or Massachusetts or Vermont.”

Weld on Customs and Border Patrol's ability to police 100 miles from any U.S. border:

"I think that whole 100-mile rule is ridiculous. It swallows up the entire state of New Hampshire, and I would see it repealed. I'm kind of a fourth amendment hawk anyway. I really don't like people having the right to search people with no reason other than that they're carrying a badge. That really goes against the grain for me. I come from the libertarian side of the Republican party, meaning I like individual liberties and think they should triumph over the government when there's a clash there.

Weld on climate change:

“The one exception to my libertarianism is environmental enforcement. The economies of scale of cleaning up the environment are so huge that you just simply can't rely on individuals or individual businesses to amass the resources necessary to do that. So in term of climate change, I do think we have to put a price on carbon upstream. So for oil and gas companies, it would be at the wellhead, for mining companies it would be at the mineshaft. ... And that would be paid by people who are introducing carbon to the economy. But the government would not keep the money.  The government would redistribute by, for example, repealing the gas tax, repealing the diesel tax. Maybe using the rest of the money -- and there would be a lot -- to give payroll tax relief to lower-income tax payers. That way you might get some conservative votes for the gas tax repeal and some more liberal votes for the payroll tax relief. But as you can see, I've thought this through. I don't think anyone else in Washington has thought it through. The most that anyone on the Democratic side has said is this is how many trillion dollars I'm going to spend.”

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