On the same day his running mate asked “what is Aleppo?” during an MSNBC interview, Libertarian vice presidential candidate William Weld made an appearance at Emerson College, where students and members of the media had an opportunity to ask about the gaffe, foreign policy, and gun control.
The visit by the former Massachusetts governor on Thursday, September 8, was hosted by the Department of Communication Studies, which extended invitations to all presidential tickets to speak to students during this election cycle.
“This is an example of what we call the Emerson immersive Political Communication experience, and that is where we not only teach Political Communication, but have them involved in the eye of the tornado, so to speak,” said Communication Studies Chair Greg Payne. Students from the Communication Studies and Journalism departments also traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire last winter to observe the caucus/primary process firsthand and attend candidate rallies.
Payne said the Q&A was a good example of the collaboration that exists between Poli Comm and Journalism students.
Journalism major Angelina Salcedo ’17 opened up questions by asking Weld if he thinks former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson’s gaffe, when he seemed ignorant of the violence-ravaged Syrian city, makes Johnson look unfit to be commander-in-chief, and how he thinks the ticket can bounce back from it.
Weld talked about the campaign’s focus on diplomacy and “constructive engagement” over military intervention before going on to defend Johnson. Weld said it “could happen to anybody.”
Josh Coe ’18, also a Journalism major, asked Weld about the foreign policy debate in the election so far.
“I wonder why, in this election, why we haven’t spoken more about other less moral questions of foreign policy and more economic questions of foreign policy… like the South China Sea,” Coe asked.
Weld said the most important economic issue pending in Asia is the Trans Pacific Partnership, which he said would benefit the U.S. economically, and has geopolitical importance as an alliance that doesn’t include China.
In response to a question from Political Communication major Christina Le ’17 referenced Weld’s support of comprehensive firearms legislation as governor in 1993.
“Would you use that as a basis for a federal model?” she asked.
Weld said as he recalled, the legislation went nowhere, and said the Libertarian Party supports the Second Amendment. He said the way to prevent mass shootings like in Orlando and Newtown, Connecticut, is to keep guns from people with mental illness, not by passing gun laws.
Geoff Morrissey ’20, a Communication Studies major, asked what in the race Weld would like to see get more attention.
“This campaign has not exactly been uplifting,” Weld said. “So I would say it’s achieving a feeling of optimism.