Former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld returned to Iowa this week for the first time since the Iowa State Fair and said he offers an alternative to President Donald Trump on a variety of issues from economic conservatism to climate change.
“I’d blow away the trillion dollar deficit, so I’d be much more engaged with the world and with our allies, as people who are force multipliers and could help us to keep the peace and keep free trade an option for everybody,” said Weld to reporters on a Thursday campaign stop in Sioux City.
Weld was a Republican governor in the 1990s in a state where about 42 percent of the people were registered Democrats during this time. He was re-elected in 1994 with 71 percent of the vote.
“There had not been a Republican governor for 20 years before I was elected,” Weld said. “And I began a string of four Republican governors in a row in Massachusetts, which is a deep blue state. So I think people who care about the Republican Party could take note of those facts.”
On climate change, an issue where he stands in stark contrast to Trump, Weld said he’d be “much more inclined” to take action to stop the Earth’s temperature from rising.
“And I’m well aware of the catastrophic impact that would have and it’s simply not responsible to fold your arms and say ‘hoax’ when considering matters like that,” Weld said.
Weld also toured Siouxland Community Health Center and met with leaders there. Asked what health care should look like in the future, Weld said he wants less government involvement and to allow for more decisions to be made by patients and their doctors.
Siouxland Community Health Center is a federally-qualified health center in Sioux City that serves low-income patients, providing urgent care, dental care, an on-site pharmacy and behavioral services, among other things. Weld said health centers like these “should get more funding rather than less because it has a real impact.”
Mari Kaptain-Dahlen, the CEO of Siouxland Community Health Center, told Weld that one of the biggest concerns is the funding cycle they are on as a federally qualified health center.
“Getting funded every two years is a bad business model,” Kaptain-Dahlen said. “It really does not help our board really look at effective strategic planning into the future…”
Kaptain-Dahlen said the health center would like the funding guaranteed for longer, on a five-year cycle. But, federal funding doesn’t cover everything, like expansions to their facility.
“Where we are bursting at the seams and where we need more providers for our patients, we have no room,” said Kaptain-Dahlen, adding that while the health center is accessible to their patients, they can’t always provide “needed services” because of funding limitations.
Weld didn't offer an immediate solution to the funding issue, but implied it's something he'll think about. "That's why it's good to go on tour and ride circuit and pick up new information," he said. "Now I know something I didn't know before."
Weld also visited a few other cities on this two-day swing across Iowa, including Nevada, Newton and Des Moines. He is one of two Republicans challenging Trump for the party’s nomination for president. The other candidate is Joe Walsh, a former Illinois congressman.