SALEM, N.H. — Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld has his eyes set on winning the New Hampshire primary by turning people out to vote and building a larger voter base than just Republicans.

“The first in the nation primary packs the most punch,” said the only candidate to officially challenge President Donald Trump in the Republican primary. 

Weld spoke at a breakfast for the Greater Salem Rotary and Greater Salem Chamber of Commerce on Friday at the Tuscan Kitchen.

When asked about how he sees his chances as a “long-shot candidate,” Weld said that he wants to reach across the aisle to get Democrats to vote for him and also attract independents to his campaign.

“Come on in and vote in the Republican primary,” Weld said, noting that Granite Staters have the option of choosing a party on Election Day.

Weld said a vote for him in the primary is definitely a vote against Trump, instead of attempting to pick the Democrat who could beat Trump in the general election.

“I want to have as many people vote as possible,” Weld said, adding that he was troubled by the measures of voter oppression other Republicans have taken.

Weld decided to run in the Republican primary because he is troubled by where the country is going under Trump’s presidency.

He is one of the hundreds of ex-prosecutors who signed a letter saying the Mueller Report laid out the argument that Trump did obstruct justice.

Weld said that as a former prosecutor, he would have used a sealed indictment to bring charges against the president, because without the indictment the statute of limitations is running out.

“And this is my area of expertise,” Weld said, emphasizing his time with the Justice Department prosecuting public corruption.

Weld served under President Ronald Reagan, as Assistant U.S. Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division in Washington, D.C., and as the United States Attorney for Massachusetts.

Weld added that he was troubled by the president’s condemnation of the press, and the Trump’s assertion that he is the “chosen one,” because that is troubling for democracy, he said.

Weld added that in addition to seeing democratic norms being broken, he doesn’t see meaningful work being done in Washington to help Americans.

His priorities if he were elected president would be balancing the budget and improving foreign relations to keep Americans safe from foreign threats, he said. Weld’s other priority: Combating climate change. Weld said he will be rolling out policy proposals on those issues in the coming months.

Education is also a priority for Weld, if he were elected. He envisions states partnering with the federal government to help pay for education programs to retrain people who have lost manufacturing jobs.

As for crafting a budget, Weld said he wanted to use the “zero-based method,” which would entail building the budget from scratch every year, analyzing what programs worked and allocating according to that.

“Instead of measuring inputs from last year, measure outputs,” he said, describing the current budget process as just addition.

Weld said he has always valued bipartisanship, especially as a Massachusetts Republican, and he hopes to bring that back to Washington.

Currently “there’s no real effort for people to work together and problem solve,” Weld said. “I did it more than willingly — work across the aisle that is.”

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