Unanswered question may geld Bill Weld’s campaign
William “Pink” Floyd Weld declined an invitation to come on my radio show yesterday, which is unfortunate, because I really only had one question for him:
Back in May 2016, Governor, your incumbent opponent in the upcoming GOP presidential primaries, Donald Trump, called you an alcoholic.
Is that true, I would have asked my old pal. Are you a drunkard? Do you have a thirst so great it would cast a shadow, as the old saying goes?
His campaign spokesman, a never-Trumper from New Hampshire named Jennifer Horn, replied for the candidate:
“Nice try Donald Trump. It’s going to be a long campaign – he’ll get better.”
Who’s he? Trump or Weld? Remember, Weld is coming up on the silver anniversary of his last victory in politics – 1994. And finally, is it really going to be a long campaign?
The larger question, though, is why exactly is Weld running for president as a Republican, considering that as recently as 2016, he was running for vice president on the Libertarian ticket, after twice endorsing Democrat Barack Obama for president.
Weld made his long-unawaited announcement Monday afternoon on CNN – way to reach out to the Republican base, Governor! The timing, on the other hand, seemed appropriate – Happy Hour. Ditto, the host – Jake Tapper, a Democrat operative with a press pass who used to be a coat holder for Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law.
The connection is, in the fall of 2016, running as a Libertarian, Weld began urging voters to cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton, even though he was running on another ticket. But then, consistency has not been Weld’s strong suit of late. If you asked Weld to name his favorite lizard, it would be a chameleon.
Trump slammed him as a tosspot after the Harvard College Class of ’66 valedictorian in effect called Trump a Nazi – there was a lot of that going around back then, still is, as a matter of fact. So Trump responded to Weld in a statement to The New York Times:
“I don’t talk about his alcoholism, so why would he talk about my foolishly perceived fascism?”
Weld’s alcoholism? The president has called a lot of people a lot of things, but as far as I can recall, publicly he’s only described two people as alcoholics – Weld, and his brother Fred Trump, who is dead. Of alcoholism.
I thought this was a fair question for me to ask, considering that Pink Floyd and I once worked together as bartenders one night at J.J. Foley’s in the South End. Remember his first campaign for governor, back in 1990?
He was in a close race against John Silber, a Democrat who was much more conservative than Weld, believe it or not. Weld was trying to reach out to the hoi polloi by hanging out at Foley’s, a hangout for cops and Herald employees, among others.
So he and I each put up $200 cash, invited in the TV crews and proceeded to pour rounds until our money ran out. It made for good TV on the 11 o’clock news, back in the day when people still watched local news on TV.
Weld was a great governor for a while, but then his attention… wavered, shall we say. He used to go to the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast in Southie a little off and Billy Bulger would ask him if he’d had a taste of the creature and Weld would laugh and say, “Just a wee small one.”
He seemed to pass out at a commencement address. He dove fully clothed into the Charles River. On election night 1994, he was slurring his words and talking about going down to Washington to visit the new House speaker, Newt Gingrich.
Weld could have been a contender, or so it seemed, but after he lost an expensive Senate race to John Kerry (it didn’t help Weld to have Bob Dole at the top of the ticket), he resigned as governor to pursue a doomed campaign for ambassador to Mexico.
It was quixotic, to say the least, like everything else he’s done the last 20 years or so, writing goofy novels, defending Jim Kerasiotes on the arm when he was indicted for income-tax evasion, running briefly for governor of New York (as a Republican)….
Weld was all over TV yesterday. He’s apparently going to barnstorm across New Hampshire – all 52 state liquor stores. My listeners began calling him “WC” as in WC Fields. His hashtag is #weldwagon, believe it or not.
Oh well, Governor, you’re still invited on the show this afternoon.
First round’s on me.