Original article published on The Tufts Daily by Madeleine Aitken available here
Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld visited Tufts for a town hall event held in Paige Hall yesterday, where Weld addressed students, faculty and guests. The event was organized by the Jonathan M. Tisch College for Civic Life and co-hosted by Tisch and Tufts Republicans.
Dean of Tisch College Alan Solomont moderated the event. Solomont began by asking Weld why he’s running for president.
“Well, this [running for the Republican nomination] is what might be called a command performance, given the state our country’s in now … I’d like to take what I’ve learned and apply it for the benefit of the country and Washington, D.C. … I also think the country is in a needy state right now, and I need to do everything I can to apply balm to that wound,” Weld said.
Weld did not hold back in stating his beliefs on Trump, the question of impeachment and the possibility of taking the Republican nomination.
“I do support the impeachment and removal of the president. I’ve spent a lot of time studying the impeachment clause; I worked on the Nixon impeachment; I testified as an expert witness at the Clinton impeachment; I actually wrote, literally wrote, the official federal statement of what our grounds for impeachment and removal of the president are when I worked on the Nixon impeachment,” Weld said.
One of Weld’s most prevalent talking points throughout the talk was his plan to implement a carbon tax.
“I think the most important issue is probably climate change, because it’s not just a national and international threat — it’s a planetary threat,” Weld said.
This event was part of Tisch College’s presidential town hall series, which, according to Jessica Byrnes, the special projects administrator at Tisch College, tries to bring students closer to candidates and increase political participation.
“We thought it would be really great if we could bring some of the 2020 candidates to campus, not as campaign events or partisan activities, but more for students to get involved in the election process and season and to learn more from the candidates themselves about what their platforms are, so that when they go to vote they feel informed and prepared to do so,” Byrnes said.
Jen McAndrew, director of communications, strategy and planning at Tisch College, who was also involved in the organization of the presidential town hall series and the Weld event, echoed Byrnes.
“We’re always on the lookout for new opportunities to bring relevant speakers to campus, and given the presidential campaign, the heightened interest around youth voting and youth voting … We thought we would try to get as many [presidential candidates] as we can — bipartisan basis — to come to campus, if they can, to interact with students in this sort of town hall format,” McAndrew said.
Both Byrnes and McAndrew emphasized that these events are not meant to be partisan or campaign events.
“These are really intended to be opportunities for students to ask questions of candidates who are running for president,” McAndrew said.
To honor this, much of the hour-long event was devoted to questions from students. The questions covered Weld’s strategy to win the nomination, as well as his views on the economy, foreign relations and immigration.
Tufts Republicans co-hosted the event with Tisch College and were also able to meet with Weld before the event. The president of Tufts Republicans, Rachel Wolff, likes the new presidential town hall concept.
“I think it’s really exciting. I don’t think a lot of people have the opportunity to meet a presidential candidate at any point in their lifetimes. And it’s really amazing that we have the opportunity to meet so many of them, so we’re all very grateful to Tisch for doing this,” Wolff, a senior, said.
Weld has solid political experience, having spent seven years as a federal prosecutor under Ronald Reagan and two terms as governor of Massachusetts. He also worked in the private sector as a lawyer and private equity partner. Most recently, Weld ran for vice president on Gary Johnson’s 2016 Libertarian Party ticket.
“I’m running because I’d like to use my experience in government and in the private sector, and my demonstrated success in working on a bipartisan basis for the benefit of everybody in the country,” Weld said in an interview with the Daily before the event.
Weld thinks it’s realistic that he or another Republican candidate could win the nomination over Trump, especially with the question of impeachment emerging.
“I think the president’s in a tough spot here in terms of the evidence against him of high crimes and misdemeanors … I overlapped with [Trump] in New York for about 10 years, and he’s famous in New York for thinking the law doesn’t apply to him. And now he’s showing that’s his view in Washington as well. That’s not a good thing in a democracy that rests on rule of law,” Weld said in the interview.
Ultimately, Weld is running in response to the actions of the current administration and hopes to reverse the partisan culture that has come to characterize our country.
“I regret the divisiveness that’s grown up in the country and with the current administration and I regret our retreat from a robust diplomatic engagement with other countries. And I would set about changing both those things,” Weld said.