Bill Weld

Former governor of Massachusetts
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Bill Weld dropped out of the presidential race on March 18, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Weld was the first candidate to announce he was challenging Donald Trump for the Republican nomination, saying he would “fear for the Republic” if the President were reelected. Weld was the vice presidential nominee on the Libertarian Party ticket in 2016.
Harvard College, B.A., 1966; Harvard Law, JD, 1970
July 31, 1945
Leslie Marshall; divorced from Susan Roosevelt Weld
David, Ethel, Mary, Quentin and Frances
Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-1997;
Assistant attorney general, 1986-1988;
US attorney for District of Massachusetts, 1981-1986;
Staffer, House Judiciary Committee, 1973-1974


Bill Weld ends Republican presidential campaign
Updated 4:05 PM ET, Wed Mar 18, 2020
Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld ended his Republican presidential campaign on Wednesday after President Donald Trump won enough delegates to win the 2020 Republican nomination. "I have decided to suspend my candidacy for President of the United States, effective immediately," Weld said in an email to supporters. Visit CNN's Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race The former Massachusetts governor was the first candidate to challenge Trump for the Republican nomination. Weld told CNN's Jake Tapper in April he would "fear for the Republic" if the President were reelected.  "Leading this movement is one of the greatest honors of my life, and I will always be indebted to all who have played a part," he said Wednesday. "But while I am suspending my candidacy," Weld continued, "I want to be clear that I am not suspending my commitment to the nation and to the democratic institutions that set us apart." Weld's long-shot bid was at one point focused on winning over moderate Republicans in New Hampshire. Trump won the New Hampshire primary in February with 85.7% of the vote, compared to Weld's 9.2%. Weld had some national name recognition from when he was the vice presidential nominee on the Libertarian ticket in 2016 with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. He was governor of New Hampshire's neighbor, Massachusetts, from 1991 to 1997, and won reelection there with more than 70% of the vote. Weld is a fierce critic of Trump, and, last April, he called for the President to resign. Weld wrote in an op-ed that Trump's "rampant dishonesty and paranoia render him incapable of serving as president." "It's time to plant a flag," Weld told CNN in a phone interview in the fall about why he launched a presidential bid. "Otherwise I'm right there with everyone else saying, 'Gee, I love the emperor's new clothes.' This emperor doesn't have any new clothes." Weld ran for Senate in Massachusetts in 1996, losing to John Kerry. He later moved to New York and in 2005 unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination there for governor. This story has been updated with more information about Weld's run and background.


climate crisis
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Weld told Hill.TV in November 2019: “What we have to do is keep Earth temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees between now and 2050, and the way you do that is by putting a price on carbon, an upstream price at the well head at the mine shaft and then people can make their own decisions about how much carbon they want to emit into the atmosphere.” He said: “It’s not a command and control situation. We’re not telling people what to do, they make their own decisions, and that’s letting the market decide about carbon, it’s a much more powerful engine than just saying I’m going to spend $10 trillion to promote clean energy. You don’t know if you’re going to get there.” He said in an interview with Journal Review that the US should rejoin the Paris climate accord, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has abandoned.
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Weld says his top priority on day one if he is elected is to file legislation to cut spending. According to his campaign website, he also wants to increase technical education and help workers who lose their jobs to automation by making community college and online tuition available to them. Weld said he would work with Congress to end “corporate welfare.” He would also audit the Federal Reserve and work to pass a balanced budget amendment. Weld tweeted in February 2019: “In the federal budget, the two most important tasks are to cut spending and to cut taxes – and spending comes first. We need to ‘zero base’ the federal budget, basing each appropriation on outcomes actually achieved, not on last year’s appropriation plus 5%.”
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Weld proposes that two years of community college and the last two years of tuition at state colleges or universities should be free. He said his administration would review the federal loan process to make sure students aren’t loaned amounts they won’t be able to pay off. He says Congress should get rid of the provision that does not allow student debt to be renegotiated. He said he would prioritize reducing the interest rate on federal student loans and would extend scholarships for vocational training. Weld delivered a speech in February 2019 in which he said, according to “Parents need more options regarding the education of their children. We need to support school choice. We need to support home schooling. We need to support charter schools. And we need to consider abolishing the US Department of Education, transferring decision-making authority to the states and the parents of school-age and college-age children.”
gun violence
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Weld said in an interview with Independent Journal Review that in order to combat gun violence, “I don’t think we want to focus on gun ownership. I do think that the 300 million rifles in private hands, lawfully acquired, constitutes a bulwark against a government overreaching. The real reason for the Second Amendment in the Bill of Rights, in my judgment, is not so people can go hunting. It’s really so people will have the guns in self-defense. … All guns are dangerous, and to address the school shootings and terrible mass murders, one obvious thing is to do everything possible to keep firearms — of any sort — out of the hands of people who are unstable and have any history of mental illness.”
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Weld proposes amending and building upon certain features of the Affordable Care Act. He also wants to bring back low-cost health insurance plans. He plans to provide hospital vouchers for veterans who want to pick different facilities. Weld said he would encourage companies to provide family and medical leave by providing tax incentives and credits. He would also push for Medicare to be permitted to negotiate prescription drug prices. Weld said in an interview with Independent Journal Review: “I think we need less government in the health care system. I think individuals should have their own tax-advantaged health savings accounts so that they can save up for the amount of protection that they wanted.”
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Weld pledges to make it easier for people to enter our country and contribute to the economy.Weld said his administration would expand the work visa program, put an end to mass deportations and simplify the adjudication process for immigration. Weld said in an interview with Independent Journal Review: “I think we should have more work visas, not less. Enforce them but have them available. We should have a guest worker program similar to Canada’s where people come and work for four months of the agricultural season or the construction season. … And I think the whole notion that the 11 million people who have overstayed their visas — so-called undocumented immigrants — a lot of those people just overstayed their visa. And to say all of them automatically have to get citizenship, that’s just crazy.”


The pandemic could be Indian leader Modi's undoing. But millions won't ditch him just yet.
Updated 11:07 PM ET, Sat Jun 12, 2021
Dr. Satyendra Kumar Tiwary thinks of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as superhuman. A leader like Modi comes along "once in 2,500 years," he says, and should be remembered among the greats in India's history, like Mahatma Gandhi, and even the Buddha. "The world will never see another leader like Modi," said the 47-year-old professor of general surgery from Varanasi, which is both Modi's parliamentary constituency and one of the holiest cities for Hindus. "He is not a man, he's superman. He's a saint." Like so many Modi supporters, Tiwary boasts that the Prime Minister, at 70, works more than 18 hours a day and has never taken a day off work in 23 years, echoing a claim that senior officials from Modi's Bharatiya Janatiya Party (BJP) have made many times. It is precisely this image of a hard-working people's man -- with little time for a personal life, but plenty for yoga and his Hindu faith -- that catapulted Modi to a landslide re-election in India's 2019 general vote. His party's unapologetic Hindu nationalist agenda attracted 100 million more votes than the main opposition. Modi, who has ruled India since 2014, has remained wildly popular despite setbacks in his efforts to kickstart the country's staggering economy, to create millions of new jobs and to provide healthcare to India's poorest citizens. But India is now gripped with a catastrophic second wave of Covid-19 that has left its crematoriums overflowing with bodies and put its health system under enormous strain. Modi is taking heat over his mismanagement of the national health crisis, for holding rallies during regional elections with no social distancing or mask-wearing rules, and for failing to prevent the gathering of millions of pilgrims at the Kumbh Mela religious festival, which contributed to one of the country's most dramatic surges in infections. Just as the pandemic contributed to the defeat of Donald Trump in the US, Modi was "almost certain" to take a hit politically too, said Ashutosh Varshney, director of the Center for Contemporary South Asia at Brown University. "A very large part of the base is hugely disenchanted because they've lost their loved ones. They've lost their siblings, their parents, their children," he said. Modi's loyal base Modi may be 70 years old, but he also has legions of young Indian supporters. Rishabh Mehta, a 24-year-old university student, said he was drawn to Modi's unwavering nationalism and thought well of the leader's achievements on improving India's defense systems. When asked about the country's high Covid-19 death toll, Mehta said he believed the numbers had been inflated by state leaders seeking to tarnish Modi's image. Mehta believes there is a targeted "campaign going on to defame the ... central government." But Mehta's loyalty has remained strong, even after losing one of his close friends to the virus. Mehta himself took his friend to hospital in the capital, New Delhi, where he described chaotic scenes of "people shouting, people coughing, people crying" in desperation. "It was a very horrific moment for all of us," he said. Most experts and critics say the opposite, and Indian media organizations are gathering more and more evidence that show country is undercounting the dead, whether deliberately or simply because India is unable to measure the pandemic's true impact. Another Millennial standing by Modi is Vagisha Soni, a 29-year-old research scholar in Delhi. Soni has been helping source oxygen and ICU beds amid critical shortages. Some of her friends lost their parents to the virus. And like Tiwary, the medical professor, she sees something greater in Modi. "I always had this feeling that there has to be one leader who has to guide us, so that was Modi. There was no other figure," she said. As for his handling of the pandemic, Soni pointed out that the death rate per capita in India shows the country isn't doing as badly as perceived from afar. She said the US was also "unable to handle [the pandemic], having the best of medical infrastructure, the best of facilities." So, it was only natural that India would not be able to cope either and using Modi as a "punching bag" was unfair, she argued. She has a point. As India's population is so much larger than most countries', it can be hard to gauge just how bad the situation is. Data from Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking global numbers during the pandemic, shows that India had a death rate of 22 per 100,000 people, far lower than the United States, which reported 179. In raw numbers, India has suffered the worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began, with more than 400,000 infections per day earlier in May -- the highest ever global daily Covid-19 case numbers. Deaths surpassed 300,000 on May 24 and it is feared the real toll could be far higher. A 'Modi devotee' loses faith The impact of the pandemic has been keenly felt in rural India, where a lack of medical infrastructure has forced people to travel miles to access treatment, contributing to potentially hundreds of thousands of unreported deaths. An ex-air force officer from Chhapra district in Bihar -- who did not want to give his name out of fear for his safety -- initially voted for Modi because he believed he would bring about change and create jobs for the youth, but has now turned against him after seeing the impact of COVID-19 on his village. "If you go to the village and say Modi's name, people will get ready to kill you. They are angry. They don't want to hear Modi's name." He said private ambulances were charging extortionate prices to take villagers to hospitals that were around 90 kilometers (around 55 miles) away and demand for basic drugs such as paracetamol had sent prices through the roof.. "If you have money, you live. If you don't, you die," he said. Ashutosh Varshney, from Brown University, said Modi's political fate depends on a clear rival presenting themselves before the country's next general election in 2024. Although India's huge population makes polling a challenge, there are some indications that the tide is turning against Modi outside the BJP stronghold states. In April's West Bengal elections, the BJP gained more seats but failed to clinch victory in the battleground state, as it had hoped to do and worked toward for years. As Modi's government sensed this power slipping away, it sought to take back control of a critical narrative that questions the Prime Minister's status as the savior of India. In Delhi, 25 people were arrested recently for putting up posters criticizing Modi for exporting vaccines to other countries, according to several local media outlets. Police in Uttar Pradesh have also pressed charges against a 26-year-old, Shashank Yadav, for simply trying to find an oxygen cylinder for his dying grandfather on Twitter, according to the BBC. Twitter has also removed a large number of posts criticizing the government's response at India's request, sparking fears of state-sponsored censorship. Modi's future may also depend on how successfully he can deflect blame for the pandemic onto local leaders, as his party has sought to do in areas where they are not in power. State powers, however, are limited by the funding they receive. OECD data shows India spends very little on healthcare, typically less than 4% of gross domestic product. The US spends around 17%, while the United Kingdom spends around 10%. The success of "Modicare" -- a healthcare scheme for the country's poorest people promised in 2018 ahead of the election -- has been limited because it is sorely underfunded and experts say it is unlikely to lead to concrete change. Even long-term BJP voters are starting to question whether Modi should remain in the job. "My wife sent a message to me saying, 'There is no more oxygen left in the hospital,'" he told CNN, breaking down as he spoke. A self-described former "Modi devotee" from Lucknow, who also didn't want to give his name, said he and his family had voted for Hindu nationalist parties including the BJP for generations. However, after losing his wife to Covid-19 earlier this year, he is unable to forgive the man he once revered. "I tried my level best to get some cylinders but could not. Nobody was here to help me. I could not do anything ... Every country in the world cares about its citizens. Not in India." "The blood is on their hands," he said of the BJP. "That blood -- they can never wash it."