Weld Will Not Run For President in '96

Ending months of speculation, Gov. William F. Weld '66 announced yesterday he will not seek the presidency in 1996.

In a news conference at the State House yesterday afternoon, Weld said he fears a presidential run would hurt his abilities to be a successful father and a successful governor.

"I suppose it is possible to be a presidential candidate, governor, father of five teen-agers all at the same time," Weld said, according to a transcript of the conference. "But I think at least one of those roles would have suffered. Probably all three would have suffered."

But the two-term governor said he would accept a vice-presidential nomination.

"That would be up to who the nominee is, "Weld said. "I don't think anybody would say no to the nominee of their party."

Weld said he has not yet ruled out mounting a challenge to U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in 1996 and will remain active on the national political scene.

"I will continue to work with the Republican Congress on matters like cutting the size of government, reforming welfare, keeping taxes down and other issues where I can contribute," Weld said. "I will also work with the Republican Party both to ensure the election of a Republican president and to represent issues and voices that I believe my party should recognize."

David M. Weld '98, the oldest of Weld's five children and a Wigglesworth Hall resident, said yesterday that he supports his father's decision wholeheartedly.

"It would have been very different from a gubernatorial race," David Weld said.

The younger Weld said his father decided not to run after discussing his possible candidacy with his family.

"We talked it over," David Weld said.

Even if his father had decided to run, David Weld said he likely would not have spent a long time on the campaign trail helping his father.

Weld joins a list of Republicans including former Vice President Dan Quayle, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Jack Kemp and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney who have decided not to run in 1996.

Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) is currently the only declared Republican candidate. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kan.), former Gov. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Richard Lugar(R-Ind.), Rep. Robert Dornan (R-Cal.), commentatorPatrick J. Buchanan, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Penn.)and former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin will alsolikely vie for the nomination.

With Weld's withdrawal, speculation hadcentered on Gov. Pete Wilson (R-Cal.) as aprospective presidential candidate. Weld has saidin the past that he expects a "pro-choice governorwhose last name begins with W to be on theticket."

But a spokesperson for Wilson said yesterdaythat he had no comment on whether Wilson is nowmore likely to enter the race.

"Were flattered by the comments from Gov. Weldand other people who have said good stuff aboutthe governor," he said.

Decision Not Surprising

Political analysts interviewed yesterday saidWeld's decision to drop out is not surprising,given the conservatism of the national RepublicanParty.

"The right-wing of the Republican Party seemsto be in the ascendancy," said Associate Professorof Government Michael G. Hagen. "It's just alittle difficult to imagine at this point amoderate Republican being able to win enoughdelegates to earn the nomination."

Weld's blend of fiscal conservatism and socialliberalism may not appeal to the Republicanactivists who tend to vote in primaries, saidMarkham Professor of Government H. Douglas Price.

"I think he would have had a hard time of it,which is why he's not a candidate," Price said."His economic conservatism would have appealed,but his social liberalism would have cost him alot of support among primary voters."

And Institute of Politics Fellow Chris Henick,former executive director of the RepublicanGovernors Association, said sitting governors havenot usually fared well in primaries.

"Bill Weld has apparently put both family andthe people of Massachusetts over any overridingambition," Henick said. "As a sitting governor,particularly one that's been re-elected by anoverwhelming mandate, it's always hard to run anational campaign."

Local Impact

Weld's decision not to seek the presidency willlikely help the people of Massachusetts, saidState Rep. Alvin E. Thompson (D-Cambridge).

"This gives us more of a chance for him tostart dealing with our problems," Thompson said."There's so many unanswered questions. This willmake sure these things are addressed."

In particular, Thompson said he expects Weld totake a more active role in overseeing the state'seconomic development and in ensuring the successof the Central Artery project.

Henick agreed that Weld's decision not to runwill have an impact on the people ofMassachusetts.

"Certainly the people of Massachusetts willfeel that they're getting their money's worth,"Henick said. "Governor Weld has national statureand will continue to have that."

But Lou DiNatale, a political analyst at theMcCormack Institute for Public Affairs atUniversity of Massachusetts-Boston, said Weld'sdecision not to run will have no impact on localpolitics because he has already handed over manyday-to-day responsibilities to Lieutenant Gov. A.Paul Cellucci.

"It doesn't help. It doesn't hurt. It doesn'tmatter," DiNatale said. "The guy's not exactly ahands-on manager anyway. For all intents andpurposes, Bill Weld ceased being concerned about[being] governor of Massachusetts the day he wasre-elected."

DiNatale said Weld will likely spend much ofhis time in Washington gaining the favor of thepotential Republican nominee.

"He's always been trying to maximize hispersonal political opportunities in the nextRepublican administration," DiNatale said.

But Henick said Weld has been active asgovernor.

"Weld doesn't strike me as a caretaker in anysense," he said.

One likely beneficiary of Weld's decision notto run is Harvard Law School, where his wife,Susan Roosevelt Weld, will remain as a researchfellow in the East Asian Legal Studies division.

"She is a wonderful and very active member ofour scholarly community here," says StinsonProfessor of Law William P. Alford, director ofthe East Asian Legal Studies program. "She's anunbelievably talented and organized person."Crimson File PhotoGov. WILLIAM F. WELD '66 speaks at theInstitute of Politics in 1993.