PEMBROKE — If anyone in New Hampshire has forgotten that Donald Trump hasn’t yet clinched the 2020 Republican presidential nomination, a certain familiar gentleman from Massachusetts would like to come by and remind them.
Former Massachusetts governor and 2016 Libertarian vice presidential candidate Bill Weld met with voters one by one at the 40th annual Pembroke-Allenstown Old Home Day, one of several events he attended across the Granite State on Saturday in his quest for the White House.
Some supporters, such as George Belli of Pembroke, appreciated the fact that Weld had thrown his hat into the ring.
Belli, a registered independent who says he generally leans toward Democratic candidates, moved from Massachusetts in 2013, where he says he “enthusiastically” voted for Weld during his two gubernatorial runs in the 1990s.
If President Trump wins the Republican nomination next year, Belli is certain he will vote for any Democratic candidate in the general election.
But in this cycle’s primary, Belli will be casting a Republican ballot for Weld.
“Bill Weld is the kind of the Republican I wish there were more of,” he said. “I have no use for Trump, and I love to see a guy like (Weld) step up and challenge him.”
Mark Parris, another Pembroke resident who attended Old Home Day, said that in 2016, he had written-in former Ohio Gov. John Kasich for President.
Like Belli, Parris is pleased that Weld is providing a choice for Republican voters, but he is skeptical that any challenger could overtake Trump for the nomination.
“With Trump’s base he’s likely to get the nomination regardless of who runs against him,” Parris said. “But Governor Weld is in stark contrast to Trump, and I think if people start listening, they’ll like what he has to say.”
Even supporters of Trump at the fair, such as Therese Ellis of Allenstown, seemed unopposed to Weld’s entrance into the race.
Ellis, whose first vote for President was for John F. Kennedy in 1960, has swung back and forth between the two parties over the years, but currently strongly supports Trump for reelection.
While she feels that Weld’s campaign will make little impact in the long run, she supported Weld’s right to try to prove himself to voters.
“I don’t know enough about him,” she said. “Anyone that wants to run should run. That’s how I feel. It’s a free country.”
Despite recent polls such as a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday stating that Trump holds an 84% approval rating among Republicans, Weld remains confident, stating that those polls are proof of what he refers to as 100% approval among Republican party officials.
He says he looks to sway independents, moderate Republicans, and conservatives who are upset with Trump’s fiscal policies. He says he’s also finding support from Democrats who have one goal above all else: voting against Trump, whether it is in a primary or a general election.
“People are really buying that idea,” he said.
Mike O’Connor of Pembroke, on the other hand, who voted in every presidential election from 1976 to 2012, did not vote for anyone in 2016.
O’Connor said he doesn’t believe Weld has any chance at the nomination. He said he feels he won’t vote for anyone in the primary and general election.
“Things are completely dysfunctional,” he said.
“The tone of the dialogue is terrible. It’s like things are being run by children.”