By Devyani Chhetri and Mita Kataria
BU News Service
EXETER, N.H – Dan Chartrand, an Exeter resident originally from Massachusetts who owns an independent bookstore, voted for Bill Weld when he ran for governor in 1990.
Sunday he opened the doors of his bookstore to Weld, a Republican presidential hopeful, for a town hall meeting.
“The mission of this bookstore is to build a diverse and vibrant community around the written word,” Chartrand said. “We’ve thrown this bookstore open to all candidates that value community.”
Weld began by talking about his love for indie bookstores but soon pointed out the odd conjunction of events that brought him there.
“Our country may be nearing a tipping point and when things have gone too far, it is time to plant a flag. And we are very much planting a flag.” Weld said.
A lawyer and a former U.S. attorney for Massachusetts, Weld was also the assistant U.S. attorney general for the Criminal Division under the Reagan administration. Weld was a two-term governor in Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997.
Weld prides himself in bringing Massachusetts back from the brink of bankruptcy and decreasing the unemployment rates and healthcare costs at the time.
While addressing the crowd, Weld said that the President Donald Trump had wished away every protection in the Constitution for the proper functioning of the government. For Weld, those were grounds for removal even if it was not a criminal offense.
Weld said he has been a part of the Republican Party since he was 18 years old.
“I grew up believing that politics was a noble calling and the Republican Party was a noble party,” he said.
However he shared his disappointment with the party’s vote to acquit President Trump, the single exception being Senator Mitt Romney.
Talking about his experience as the governor of a largely blue state, Weld spoke about the importance of finding a middle ground.
“Those of you who worked with me in Massachusetts know that I reached immediately across the aisle and forged a pretty good bond with the Democratic leadership in the legislature,” he said.
“We had joint revenue projections to guard against infighting, which formed the basis of the budget,” Weld said. “They ushered in a golden era of relations between the two political parties which persists to this day.”
He now envisions a similar change in Washington.
When asked about his chances against Trump, Weld said he was the best Republican candidate in the Republican primaries.
Despite the cancellation of Republican primaries in states like Nevada and South Carolina, Weld was unfazed and said that he was looking forward to Super Tuesday come March.
Weld was critical of the way the Republican National Party had handled the presidential nominations.
“They say we have to save money by canceling the primary,” he said. “Okay, fine. Let’s cancel all the elections. That would save a lot of money.”
He said that the voters, rather than taking a chance with one of the Democratic nominees, should vote for him. He said if people voted for him, it would be a vote directly against Trump.
He said he admired Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren, but thought that their socialist stance would hurt them.
“This is a slightly right off-center country and not a slightly left off-center country,” he said.
When asked by Nancy Ryan, the chairman of the New Hampshire Breast Cancer Coalition, if he would sign their public policy forum giving adequate funding, access to quality healthcare and training advocates to help in the fight against breast cancer, Weld immediately signed it. He became the first Republican to do so.
Ryan said she liked his comments on climate change, and he had what she wanted to see in a candidate.
“I think he has a better grasp of science than the current occupant of the White House,” Ryan said.
Though registered as a Democrat, Ryan said that she will encourage her Republican friends to vote for Weld.
Terrie Harman, a former Democrat from Exeter, said that she changed her voter registration to Independent to vote against Trump. Now, she’s supporting Weld.
“We need someone who is a good family man,” Harman said. “We need someone who is not worried about impending criminal prosecutions.”
She said she would vote for Weld because he is the only candidate who knows how to run a government and has the leadership skills that the U.S. needs right now.
“I have complete belief that there is a middle ground where thinking, compassionate, empathetic people can meet in the middle.”