Weld story

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WASHINGTON, D.C.: William Weld's visit to Capitol Hill today was more about saving his political future than saving his appointment as ambassador to Mexico. On a day when Trent Lott advised Weld to "accept consideration for another position or look for work," the former Massachusetts governor made the rounds looking to shore up support with an eye toward a possible V-P slot in 2000. Weld all but assured his nomination would fail by accusing Foreign Relations committee head Jesse Helms last week of "political extortion" for holding up his appointment, says TIME's Sam Allis. The reason for the move, Allis says, is that Weld felt he could not follow White House orders and stand by silent while Helms trashed his reputation. While the fight may have begun as an effort to save his nomination, it's has become a fight for leadership of the moderate wing of the GOP. "n balance, it's not a bad move," says Allis. "It is true he was going down the tubes while he maintained radio silence. So why not stand on his hind legs and defend himself? Why not demand a hearing?" Looking to further his support, Weld touched base with supporters today, including Wyoming Republican Craig Thomas, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, John Ashcroft, and Joe Biden. While the White House says it's firmly behind Weld, President Clinton may in the end be reluctant to spend any political capital helping further Weld's political ambitions.