• Paul Steinhauser

Vision 2020: Weld gives GOP never-Trumpers hope

Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who is likely to challenge for the Republican presidential nomination, meets voters during a party at the Dover home of former New Hampshire GOP chair Fergus Cullen on Sunday.

He remains an extreme longshot in his likely bid to primary challenge Republican President Donald Trump.

But former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld’s first house party in New Hampshire - held in the Seacoast region - may be a sign that there’s at least an appetite by some Granite Staters for someone to take on Trump in next year’s Republican presidential primaries.

Former New Hampshire GOP chair Fergus Cullen, who hosted the event at his Dover home on Sunday, told Seacoastonline 62 guests attended the house party.

“What some of us are trying to do is find out is if there’s a market for an alternative out there,” said Cullen, a vocal critic of the Republican president.

“We didn’t know if there would be any level of interest and interest was pretty good,” he explained. “What that tells me is yeah, there’s a significant number of people who are at least open to hear an alternative.”

Trump remains very popular among Republicans. Eighty percent of self-identified Republicans questioned in a February poll conducted the by University of New Hampshire’s Survey Center said they approved of the president’s job performance. But only 56 percent of Republicans said at this time they planned on voting for Trump in next February’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary. Fifteen percent said they planned on supporting another candidate, with nearly three in 10 not sure.

In a hypothetical GOP primary matchup in New Hampshire, the poll put Trump at 68 percent, with former Ohio Gov. John Kasich - another vocal Trump critic who came in second in the 2016 primary - at 17 percent and Weld at just 3 percent.

Weld appears to be trying to boost those meager numbers.

He has visited New Hampshire each week since announcing in February that he was setting up a presidential exploratory committee as he mulled a primary challenge against the president.

Read more on Seacoastonline

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