Venture capitalist Peter Thiel thinks Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump is the candidate best positioned to tackle issues related to trade, war and globalisation that have weighed on a large portion of the electorate.
“No matter how crazy this election seems, it is less crazy than the state of our country,” the billionaire said during a speech at the National Press Club in Washington DC on Monday morning.
“Trump's agenda is about making America normal again,” he later added.
Far from “normal”, he said, is the high cost of student loans and medical bills for the elderly at the same time the country is engaged in “five simulataneous undeclared wars” – costing taxpayers dearly.
Thiel, who founded PayPal in 1998 and is now a partner at venture capital firm Founders Fund, accused previous American leaders of benefiting from the status quo and not addressing major issues facing the country.
“What we have is a debate with one candidate who says everything is fine, or as fine as it can be, and the other who says we are on the Titanic and about to sink,” he said. “I prefer the second one.”
While he acknowledged that Trump's comments about women on an NBC video that recently surfaced “were clearly inappropriate”, he qualified that “this election year, both candidates are imperfect people, to say the least”.
Thiel went on to explain that he is supporting Trump for the presidency as he is the best candidate to change the status quo and address these lingering problems including the deficit and the impact of free trade on Americans' jobs.
“I've always had a bias for outsider candidates,” he said. “One thing I would have liked to have seen is a race between Trump and Sanders,” he added, referring to Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, who was defeated by Hilary Clinton in the primaries.
He also said that Trump shouldn't be “taken literally”, as the media often does, but that his overall message should be taken seriously. Asked about the reaction of his peers in Silicon Valley to his support for Trump, he said that although the technology world there is fairly liberal, a small number of fellow venture capitalists and entrepreneurs are happy he has been vocal in supporting the candidate.
Thiel recently donated $1.25 million to support the Trump campaign, and spoke at the Republication convention in July.