Billionaire industrialist and Republican donor Charles Koch, offered critical comments about the Republican presidential field during an exclusive interview Sunday with ABC News’ Jonathan Karl on This Week. He was critical of the tone of the campaign rhetoric of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump and Texas senator Ted Cruz, the front-runners in the Republican presidential nomination race.
He described Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims temporarily from entering the country and creating a database to track American Muslims as “monstrous” and “reminiscent of Nazi Germany.” He also described Cruz’s promise to “carpet bomb” ISIS-controlled areas in the Middle East as “frightening.”
When asked about his opinion on the proposal by the Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump to ban Muslims temporarily from entering the U.S, he described it as “antithetical to our approach,” and said it was alarming.
Charles Koch, 80, whose political organization Freedom Partners is a major source of campaign funding for conservative Republican candidates, went on to say that Donald Trump’s proposal to create databases for Muslims in the U.S. was a “monstrous” idea “reminiscent of Nazi Germany.”
“What was worse was this: ‘We’ll have them all register.’ That’s reminiscent of Nazi Germany. I mean, that’s monstrous,” the libertarian billionaire and CEO of Koch Industries, said.
“‘We’ll have them all register.’ That’s reminiscent of Nazi Germany. I mean, that’s monstrous.”
With regard to Cruz’s promise to “carpet bomb” areas of the Middle East under ISIS control and “make the sand glow,” he argued that although Cruz may have meant his words as hyperbole, the fact that he thought such words would appeal to American voters was “frightening.”
“Well, that’s gotta be hyperbole but, I mean, that a candidate, whether they believe it or not, would think that appeals to the American people? — that is frightening,” he said.
After Koch said he thought Bill Clinton performed better as Democratic president in some respects than Republican president George W. Bush, Karl asked him if he thought Mrs. Clinton would also be a better candidate than Trump and Cruz.
He responded cautiously, saying, “It’s possible. It’s possible.”
In the context of his voiced displeasure with the tone of the Republican race, Charles Koch refused to rule out the possibility that he and his brother David might support Hillary Clinton. But he said the decision would depend on their assessment whether her actions as president would depart from her campaign rhetoric.
“We would have to believe her actions would be quite different than her rhetoric. Let me put it that way,” he said.
“We would have to believe her [Clinton’s] actions would be quite different than her rhetoric.”
Charles Koch and his brother David have spent millions of dollars of their private wealth to support conservative causes such as minimal government regulation of businesses and the economy. They have also fought against government policies inimical to their business interests, such as measures to curb industrial emissions believed to contribute to climate change.
The Koch brothers had said they would spend nearly $1 billion in the 2016 election cycle. But on Sunday, Charles told ABC News’ Jon Karl that he and his brother have not committed any resources to supporting or opposing candidates at the primaries stage of the 2016 election cycle.
A spokesman for the Koch organization had said earlier that the Koch brothers had no plans to oppose Trump’s bid for nomination as the GOP candidate.
Koch said, “We read — I read, oh, we’ve given millions to this one, millions to that one, and millions to oppose Trump. We’ve done none of that. We haven’t put a penny in any of these campaigns, pro or con.”
But he said it was unlikely that their political network would support Trump or Cruz.
Criticizing the GOP presidential front-runners, he said, “These personal attacks and pitting one person against the other — that’s the message you’re sending the country. You’re role models and you’re terrible role models. So how – I don’t know how we could support ’em.”
The Koch brothers had initially supported Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker for nomination as the Republican presidential candidate, but he dropped out of the race in 2015.
[Photo by Patrick T. Fallon for The Washington Post/AP]