LEWISTON — Steve Roop listened politely for more than a half-hour Saturday while former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld laid out for a small group of business and political leaders gathered at Fish Bones American Grill why he and Gary Johnson ought to be elected vice president and president on the Libertarian ticket next month.

Roop was the first to speak, and bluntly so.

“My concern is throwing away my vote, number one,” he said. “And number two, I really have a lot of questions as far as foreign policy.”

Weld spent the morning in Lewiston, state campaign headquarters for the Libertarian party, explaining his positions, his personal history and greeting a dozen campaign volunteers on Lisbon Street.

The visit was part of a weekend swing through New England. Casually dressed in a plaid shirt, gray jeans, a brown leather coat and work boots, he called Maine “friendly territory.”

Johnson and Weld, both former Republican governors, last held a rally in Lewiston two months ago.


“This is Libertarian country, we like to think,” Weld said during his first stop at campaign headquarters.

He described their platform as fiscally responsible and socially inclusive.

“I was out there for the entire decade of the 1990s all by myself on gay and lesbian civil rights,” he said. “Gary was out there for the decade of the aughts all by himself for the legalization of marijuana, so we don’t mind taking the heat and standing for our positions.”

Weld said the ticket has been picking up momentum, polling at 20 percent or better in a few states, up from 5 percent three months ago.

“We’re trying to get (Johnson) into the third (presidential) debate,” he said. “That would be 80 million people watching.”

Weld said he had been bothered by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s “rant” against Somali immigrants moving to Maine and had learned more about that population since hearing Trump’s remarks in August.


“It really is unacceptable that he would take advantage of the fact that there was this law-abiding, contributing population and just say, ‘Well, they’re from another place, we need to be against them,'” Weld said. “It’s vintage Donald Trump, trying to stir up resentment and anger and even hatred and set group against group. I think it’s actually the worst thing about his campaign and it’s contributing to a difficult atmosphere in the country at large this year.”

Abdikadir Negeye from Lewiston, who helped found the Maine Immigrant & Refugee Services, said that was one of the reasons he’d been drawn to listen to Weld at Fish Bones.

“There’s a lot of hate and fear in the community in what Trump has been saying on the TV,” Negeye said. “Someone who can stop that, that’s one thing I wanted to hear, and I think that’s what I did hear.”

The group of about 20 local leaders, invited by Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Matt Leonard, largely sat and heard Weld out, interrupting to clap just a few times.

His largest applause line came from addressing health care. The Affordable Care Act doesn’t need to go, but does need many changes to cut costs, Weld said.

Weld, who described himself as a “proud father of eight,” said he cut taxes 21 times while in office in Massachusetts.


“One of my maxims when I was governor was, ‘There’s no such thing as government money, there’s only taxpayer’s money,'” he said.

Asked about foreign policy, Weld said he supports bringing soldiers home from Afghanistan.

“We want to serve our country. We want everybody to feel good about being American,” he said. “We don’t want to be trigger-happy; we don’t want to be by definition the world’s policemen.”

Roop, who owns Rooper’s liquor stores, stood to leave after an hour, saying he had to get back to the job of being the manager on duty.

“I like you,” he told Weld. “I like the fact that you’re not going to bail out big banks and big industries. And you’ve got my vote.”

Weld, clearly pleased, said as the group broke up: “I feel at home here, and I’m going to tell Gary about the job I did on that guy — he was a tough sell.”

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