Billionaire tech investor and PayPal founder Peter Thiel has been making headlines since May with his ardent and vocal support of Donald Trump, an uncommon stance in Silicon Valley.
Speaking at a National Press Club event today, Thiel once again defended his support of the Republican presidential candidate, and his comments offer a glimpse into the forces that make Trump supporters so animated about the candidate
Thiel said Trump gets “big things” right — including his opposition to free trade and foreign interventions — but Trump’s most important quality is his stance as an outsider, and his consistent challenges to the Washington establishment.
“The big things he’s right about amount to a much-needed dose of humility in our politics,” Thiel said. “We’re voting for Trump because we’ve judged the leadership of our country to have failed.”
Of course, not everyone in the tech industry is on the same side as Thiel. In July, more than 125 leading tech executives — including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, Expedia chairman Barry Diller, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and former Cisco Chief Technology and Strategy Officer and Microsoft board member Padmasree Warrior — signed a letter saying that Trump would be a “disaster for innovation.”
In today’s remarks, Thiel, who recently donated $1.25 million to Trump’s campaign, painted a dismal picture of America’s recent decades, dwelling on multiple foreign wars and economic bubbles that have left many disillusioned with the country.
He also listed a myriad of economic and trade-based realities, including the country’s trade deficit and increasing cost of healthcare and college tuition, as a sign of the country’s “decline” and a sign that the political system must be overhauled.
“It shouldn’t be surprising to see people vote for Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, who is the only outsider left in the race,” given this situation, Thiel said. He added: “What Donald Trump represents isn’t crazy, and it’s not going away.”
Thiel also conceded that Trump is not a perfect candidate, and that he does not agree with all of his statements or actions.
“Both major candidates are imperfect, to say the least. I don’t agree with everything that Donald Trump has said or done, and I don’t think the millions of people voting for him do either,” he said.
In a later Q&A session, Thiel also defended Trump’s stance on immigration, saying that specific issues like the wall on the Mexican border and his proposed ban on Muslim immigrants should be taken “seriously” but not literally.
Watch Thiel’s full speech and Q&A below.