May 12, 2019


GOP candidate Weld talks Trump at Valley News-sponsored forum (DAVID CORRIVEAU, 5/11/19, Valley News)

Near the end of his first visit to the Upper Valley as a 2020 candidate for president on Saturday, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld estimated that he'd shaken the hands of some 240 people at three diners in Lebanon earlier in the day.

"I didn't meet a single person who didn't express disdain and dismay about Donald Trump," Weld recalled during a midafternoon forum at Hartford High School on Saturday.

The 73-year-old is counting on enough like-minded Republicans to show up for next winter's New Hampshire primary to boost his challenge to the incumbent president.

And just in case the anti-Trump voters aren't enough, Weld has been highlighting his own credentials as a hard-line federal prosecutor and a two-term, tax-slashing governor of Massachusetts; his libertarian stance on gun ownership; and his current policy positions including support for LGBTQ Americans and welcoming instead of demonizing immigrants.

All those issues came up at the forum on Saturday, which the Valley News co-sponsored with news website VtDigger and which the VN's News Editor John Gregg hosted. Gregg worked for Weld as his chief speechwriter when Weld was governor.

More than 100 forum attendees, a mix of New Hampshire and Vermont residents, seemed mostly open to Weld's candidacy -- even Democrats such as Strafford resident John Freitag.

"I like that he's a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, which I think a lot of Vermonters are," Freitag said after the forum. "And I like people who are willing to be forthright in their opinions, even ones I might disagree with. ... He represents the best of the Republican Party -- those who are committed to the Constitution and our republic."

Vermont's current Republican governor, who has often disagreed, politely, with many of Trump's policies and with much of the president's combative style, also listened with interest.

Posted by at May 12, 2019 7:07 AM