Feb. 7--Bill Weld, fighting to survive in his Republican bid for president, says the Democrats could be in real trouble against President Trump if they continue down the path of picking Bernie Sanders as the nominee.
"I think Trump beats him fairly easily," Weld told the Herald in an interview Thursday. "That's why the centrist Democrats are going nuts."
He added, "People who do not want Mr. Trump to be re-elected I think are correct to think that there's a greater risk with either Sen. Sanders or Sen. (Elizabeth) Warren ... because it gives Mr. Trump the socialism issue, which is a powerful issue in this country."
Weld said Democrats need to put forward a centrist to win. He sees potential in U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the pragmatic Midwesterner who looks on track for a fifth-place finish in the chaotic Iowa caucuses.
He also sees potential in Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City and an old friend.
Weld lived in New York for a decade and was "very active" in Bloomberg's second and third mayoral races.
He recounted a conversation with Bloomberg early last year in which they shared mutual fears over a progressive nominee.
"I was saying, 'Mike, we gotta talk or we're going to get Warren,' " Weld recalled. "And he said, 'Well you're right, I'm worried too, except I think it's going to be Sanders.' "
Bloomberg ultimately decided to run himself.
"Most people didn't think that was going to sell," Weld said. "But listen, if he's at 12 or 13% nationwide, he can't be counted out."
As he played pundit on the Democrats, it was easy to forget that Weld, the Republican governor of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1997, is running for president himself -- and has been since last April.
His stump speech sounds like something out of a Democrats' playbook -- full of concerns about climate change and of artificial intelligence taking away jobs.
Weld, a fiscally conservative but socially liberal Massachusetts Republican, says he's "never thought of being a Democrat."
But he is playing to them, and to the anyone-but-Trump independents. He's hoping to win some of those votes in Tuesday's New Hampshire primary. He also said Trump's use of the word "bullshit" Thursday is the type of tough talk that helped get him elected.
"I've got a fair amount of traction in New Hampshire among independents," Weld said. "Instead of throwing a dart at the Democratic field and hoping to hit the one that's going to be the nominee, vote for me."
Weld put up just 426 votes against Trump's 31,464 in the Iowa caucuses, but still finished ahead of fellow Republican challenger former Illinois U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh.
He's looking for a stronger finish in neighboring New Hampshire, where he said he's spent 220 days campaigning.
"New Hampshire doesn't feel like Iowa," Weld said. "The party's a little different -- 65% of New Hampshire Republicans are pro-choice on the reproductive rights issue, that's not typical."
But is that enough?
"I don't know," Weld said.
Weld plans to plow forward at least through Super Tuesday. He's spent more money than he's taken in during his campaign, according to his FEC filings. But he's on the airwaves and says he has enough to get by.
But he stands virtually no chance against Trump, who, emboldened after his impeachment acquittal, delivered a celebratory speech Thursday knocking Weld and Walsh as "nonpeople."
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