New York Times
By Maggie Haberman and Thomas Kaplan
May 19, 2016
William F. Weld, the twice-elected former Republican governor of Massachusetts, who was last seen campaigning in the 2006 Republican primary for governor of New York, now hopes to be on a national ticket as the vice-presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party.
And he is already on the attack.
In his first interview since accepting an invitation to be the running mate of former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, Mr. Weld assailed Donald J. Trump over his call to round up and deport the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
“I can hear the glass crunching on Kristallnacht in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vienna when I hear that, honest,” Mr. Weld said Thursday.
Mr. Weld, 70, was not uniformly critical of the presumptive Republican nominee. “I don’t consider myself part of the Never Trump movement,” he said, praising Mr. Trump’s success in the primary contest.
“I’m not horrified about everything Mr. Trump has done at all,” he said, adding: “I think he’s done a lot. But when I think about some of the positions, I think they’re way out there.”
Where he differs with Mr. Trump most sharply is on Mr. Trump’s call for rounding up and deporting the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
Asked if he believed Mr. Trump was a fascist, Mr. Weld demurred. “My Kristallnacht analogy does evoke the Nazi period in Germany,” he said. “And that’s what I’m worried about. A slippery slope.”
After a circuitous answer, he eventually came to a conclusion. “No, I wouldn’t call Mr. Trump either a fascist or a Nazi,” Mr. Weld said. “I’m just saying, we got to watch it when we get exclusionary about people on account of their status as a member of a group.”
Mr. Weld’s best-known previous turn on the national stage was in 1997, when he resigned as governor to focus on his appointment by President Bill Clinton as ambassador to Mexico.
That did not go well: He was blocked by Senator Jesse Helms and withdrew his nomination after a heated battle in which Mr. Weld, a pillar of what was left of the moderate northeastern Republican establishment, loudly assailed Mr. Helms and the archconservatives who stood behind him.
A former prosecutor, Mr. Weld could appeal to some disaffected Republicans on a ticket alongside Mr. Johnson, at a time when other efforts by Republicans to recruit a third-party candidate — in part in the hopes of keeping anti-Trump Republican voters from staying home and costing the party’s lower-tier candidates — are close to fizzling.
Mr. Weld said Mr. Johnson, the Libertarian presidential candidate in 2012 who is seeking the party’s nomination again, approached him only in the last week. Their hope is to amass enough support in national polls to be included in the presidential debates. If that happened, Mr. Weld said hopefully, it would not be impossible to envision a minor-party ticket winning the White House.
But he also did not protest too much when asked how he would reassure those who, mindful of his willingness to roll the dice in politics, might question his level of commitment to a national run.
“There’s some truth in that,” said Mr. Weld, who now works at a law firm, Mintz Levin, and its lobbying arm, ML Strategies. “I do like to climb mountains in politics, and I do enjoy running for office.”
Mr. Weld said the Libertarian message on civil liberties and small government was appealing to younger voters. He spoke critically of the Iraq invasion of 2003 and of failed attempts at nation-building in the Middle East.
He said he possessed a deep libertarian streak, and pined for a time when that was more widespread in the Republican Party. He complained about partisan gridlock in Washington and remembered his early days working on Capitol Hill, before law school, for Senator Jacob Javits, Republican of New York.
“It was a totally different era and a wonderful era,” he said. “It was wonderful to be in Washington in those days. And things absolutely got done.”
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