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William F Weld

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Governor Mitt Romney and William F. Weld



Weld backs Romney for Oval Office

He bypasses friend and potential candidate Giuliani

By Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff | January 9, 2007


Former Massachusetts governor William F. Weld has emerged as a major backer of Mitt Romney, despite a long friendship with Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is a potential Romney rival in the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.


On social issues, Weld is also closer philosophically to the moderate Giuliani than he is to Romney, who has tacked to the right and strongly opposes abortion rights and gay marriage.


Weld, now a partner in the New York office of the McDermott Will & Emery law firm, was among a small army of fund-raisers in Boston yesterday making phone calls to potential donors to Romney's presidential exploratory committee. Weld estimated he raised about $50,000 from the campaign's headquarters on the North End waterfront.


Weld is cochairman of Romney's campaign in New York state. Last month, he was a host of an event at the New York Athletic Club that introduced Romney to a large group of prominent New York Republicans.


Yesterday, Weld said he was working from a list of about 1,300 contributors to his failed campaign for governor of New York last year. Weld, who returned to his native New York after serving as Bay State governor from 1991 to mid-1997, abandoned a political comeback last June, pulling the plug on his improbable candidacy for governor of New York after losing the endorsement of the state's Republican Party.


Giuliani, with whom Weld has had personal, political, and business relationships over a quarter-century, had encouraged Weld to run. Early in the campaign, Weld used Giuliani's office for political meetings, but the former two-term mayor never publicly endorsed him, despite frequent news reports during the campaign that Giuliani's explicit backing was anticipated.


Weld disputed accounts yesterday that he was disappointed by the lack of public support from Giuliani.


"We talked about it early on, about me making the New York race," Weld said. "He was for it . . . Everybody was for it." In hindsight, his candidacy "never got off the ground," Weld said, and he doubted he could have done better than GOP nominee John Faso, who lost to Democrat Eliot Spitzer by about 40 percentage points.


Moreover, Weld said that Giuliani never formally promised to support him in the governor's race and that Giuliani never formally asked Weld to back him if he ran for the White House.


"We never got to that point," Weld said. "I don't think he'd gotten to that point until the last month or so, and by then I was with Romney." Giuliani established his presidential exploratory committee in late November.


"It's not that I don't think Rudy Giuliani and Arizona Senator John McCain are both great Americans; I do," said Weld, referring to other top-tier figures mentioned in the GOP race. "It's just that I think Mitt Romney is going to be and should be the next president of the United States."


Weld and Giuliani have a long history, dating back to the US Justice Department in the early 1980s when Giuliani was associate attorney general and Weld was the US attorney in Boston.


When Giuliani considered running for the US Senate against Hillary Clinton in 2000, Weld was an early and enthusiastic supporter until Giuliani dropped out of the race in May after announcing he had prostate cancer and was separating from his wife.


Weld and Giuliani have moved in the same social circles, and, in 2002, when Weld became a partner at a New York private equity firm, he brought in Giuliani, who had started a consulting business, as chairman of the fund's board of advisers.


Political allegiances aside, they remain "very friendly," Weld said yesterday. "I think if you asked him, he'd say the same."


Attempts to reach Sunny Mindel, a spokeswoman for Giuliani, were unsuccessful.

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