Weld urges support for Clinton in voters are not with Libertarians
By State House News Service | November 8, 2016, 7:32 EDT
BOSTON – Hillary Clinton is former Gov. Bill Weld’s second choice in the presidential election after his own ticket, and on the eve of election day the Libertarian vice presidential nominee suggested he understands why Libertarians in swing states might cast a vote for the Democrat.
“I hope Gary Johnson and Bill Weld win the presidential election, but if we don’t I hope Hillary Clinton does,” Weld told reporters before a rally at Faneuil Hall Monday night. He said, “We do want people to vote Libertarian but I understand that in a very close swing state, there may be different dynamics at play.”
No polls carry even the whiff of a suggestion that the Libertarian Party could win the presidency Tuesday. Real Clear Politics has the ticket polling an average of 4.8 percent.
Both Weld and his new party’s presidential nominee, Johnson, had prior political lives as Republican governors, with Weld leading Massachusetts in the 1990s and Johnson governing New Mexico. Weld has in recent weeks increasingly expressed support toward Clinton, vouching for her character after renewed attention from the FBI on her use of a private email server for official State Department business. Weld has also lambasted his former party’s nominee, real estate developer and reality TV star Donald Trump.
“I think there’s nothing to compare between the two of them. I think Mr. Trump is massively unfit to be president of the United States just on grounds of stability and temperament, and Mrs. Clinton is perfectly fit. At the same time, we’re looking for every vote we can get nationwide to get over that 5 percent figure,” Weld said on Monday when asked how he would advise a voter in a swing state on the fence between Trump and Clinton. Asked if he would tell a voter split between the two major party nominees to choose Clinton, Weld said, “Absolutely. I’ve sort of said that from day one, I think.”
In late October, Weld deemed “absurd” notions that he wants voters to support Clinton, writing, “I have made clear from day one my fear of a potential Trump presidency, just as I have made clear my policy differences with Hillary Clinton. The only candidate I am urging voters to support for President is Gov. Gary Johnson. Period.”
“He’s got it in for Trump. I’ll take over the Hillary side,” Johnson said of his running mate on CNBC Monday in the midst of a critique of the Democrats’ nominee. Of Clinton, Johnson said, “Crony capitalism. Government picking winners and losers. I think clearly she’s established herself as a seller in that equation.”
Weld endorsed President Barack Obama, a Democrat, in 2008, and backed Republican Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, in 2012.
On Monday Weld said he is hoping his ticket gains at least 5 percent of the vote nationwide to confer official status on the Libertarian Party, which would open the tap for federal electoral funds. The former governor said he advises everyone in Massachusetts – a safe state for Clinton – to vote Libertarian.
“In a way it’s a vote of conscience,” Weld said. He expressed a hands-off attitude toward telling others in his party how to vote, saying, “I’m going to support Libertarian voters no matter what they do. We’re Libertarians. We don’t really tell people what they have to do.”
A site of political activity since before the nation’s founding, Faneuil Hall presents a rich historical tapestry from which to draw. Viewing his former party as headed for a massive split, Weld on election eve drew parallels with the turbulent pre-Civil War years of the 1850s when the Republican party was created.
“I think the Republican party is going to break in two just like the Whig party,” Weld said, opining that Trump’s party is “almost like a carbon copy” of the “Know Nothings,” and Libertarians are like the Free Soilers who helped create the Republican party, and its first presidential candidate, Californian John Fremont, in 1856. He said, “In a way, we the Libertarians are the natural heirs to the Free Soilers.”
That year with slavery the main campaign issue, Democrat James Buchanan carried nearly all the slave states to beat Fremont and American party – or “Know Nothing” – candidate Millard Fillmore, of New York, according to the Society of American Historians’ reference book on presidents and presidential elections.
Weld predicted that the Libertarian party “under whatever name” could become the majority party in the United States in the next decade or so.
Weld left the governorship midway through his second term to pursue his nomination, by President Bill Clinton, to the post of U.S. ambassador to Mexico, but he was blocked by Republicans in Congress.
Saying Republicans “never quite got the big tent that I contended for all those years,” Weld reiterated that he intends to remain a Libertarian.
“I’m going to keep on my big L hat,” Weld said.
— Written by Andy Metzger