WASHINGTON — PayPal co-founder and Silicon Valley tycoon Peter Thiel defended his recent support for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump Monday, saying America is on the decline and needs to elect an outsider to manage the economy.
Thiel made the remarks in a speech at the National Press club. In July, the entrepreneur spoke at the Republican National Convention in July, breaking from the more liberal views shared by many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
On Monday Thiel said Trump “points to a new Republican Party beyond the dogmas of Reaganism.” He said the New York billionaire developer also could reflect a party that “rejects bubble thinking and reckons with reality.”
“No matter what happens in this election, what Trump represents isn’t crazy and it’s not going away,” Thiel said
Thiel, who serves on the board of directors for both Facebook and Y Combinator, raised eyebrows earlier in October after donating $1.25 million to super PACs as well as directly to the Trump campaign.
Thiel said he doesn’t make much of his donation to Trump, saying he didn’t think Trump “even needed his money.” But some of his friends, apparently, are unhappy with him. He said he has received a tremendous amount of pushback from others in Silicon Valley, but that his donation has not ruined any major relationships.
The tech mogul said Trump has an understanding of the economy that will prevent another housing or technology bubble — causes of past recessions.
Thiel said he doesn’t agree with “everything Donald Trump has said and done,” nor with his comments about women. But he said millions of Americans will vote for the New York billionaire because they “judge the leadership of the country to have failed.”
Asked about Trump reporting a near $1 billion loss in his 1995 tax returns, Thiel maintains that the developer is a capable businessman.
“He’s been a successful business man, there’s no question about that,” Thiel said. “We can debate how many zeroes exactly he has in his net worth.”
Thiel said Trump’s candidacy isn’t just about “making America great,” but about a return to normalcy in economic matters and foreign affairs.
“A normal country doesn’t have a half-trillion-dollar trade deficit. A normal country doesn’t fight five simultaneous undeclared wars. In a normal country, the government actually does its job,” he said.
Trump isn’t the first outsider Thiel has supported for president. He said he’s “always had a bias favoring outsider candidates,” and supported Ron Paul in 2008, and Carly Fiorina earlier in 2016.
Thiel also delved into the role of LGBTQ rights in the Republican Party. Thiel, who was outed as gay back in 2007 by the media company Gawker, said Trump provides “a sea of change for the Republican party,” and “he’s indicated he would be quite responsive on gay rights.”