NASHUA — Bill Weld said he is not just trying to wound President Donald Trump’s re-election prospects by challenging him in the Republican presidential primary.
“I’m in it to win it,” the former Massachusetts governor said Tuesday.
Weld spoke at a forum on the economy at Nashua Community College, sponsored by the Community College System of New Hampshire and hosted in collaboration with the New Hampshire Union Leader and Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.
Weld is waging his campaign because he said he has the experience — and disagrees with the policies of both Trump and the Democratic candidates.
He is in favor of free trade, and said he wants to see more seasonal guest workers allowed into the United States. He said he has heard from farms and construction sites in the western United States unable to find enough workers, as have tourist businesses in New England.
“I see immigration as contributing to the economy because it does contribute to the economy,” Weld said. He said any business leader would say there is a need for more migrant labor.
He said the poor treatment of Latinos could eventually kneecap the Republican party.
“Mexicans are the hardest-working people I ever saw in my life,” Weld said. “They’re very religious, they’re family-oriented. I think they’re natural Republican voters if they’re treated with respect —which they’re not in this administration.”
Weld also spoke about his concern around income inequality, and his belief that the Trump administration is not doing enough to address it.
“As a prudential matter of social cohesion, I think we do need to do something for the lower echelons, the lower rungs of the economic ladder,” Weld said.
He favors a larger earned income tax credit, but said he thought many social programs were too paternalistic. No social program could be better than a job, said Weld, who is pleased to see wages growing.
The Republican said he worries about the long-term prospects for workers without much education, and is concerned about jobs that will be lost to automation and artificial intelligence.
Weld said he wants to provide re-training for workers; he noted it would take no more than three semesters of community college or technical training to re-train a truck driver to become a high-tech worker.
He acknowledged the strength of the economy, but Weld said he does not think a strong economy will guarantee Trump’s re-election.
“There are so many irons in the fire; it’s not going to be the price of hamburg,” he said.