British magnate Richard Branson is no fan of fellow billionaire Donald Trump.
In a bid to shed light on the kind of presidency Trump will have to offer, Branson shared the story of an encounter with the Republican candidate. Some years ago, the founder of the Virgin group left a one-on-one meeting at Trump’s Manhattan apartment “disturbed and saddened.”
Trump’s choice of conversation at their first meeting focused on how he would avenge people who refused to bail him out of bankruptcy. “Even before the starters arrived he began telling me about how he had asked a number of people for help after his latest bankruptcy and how five of them were unwilling to help,” the business tycoon wrote in a blog post on Virgin’s website. Trump allegedly said he was going to spend his life “destroying these five people.”
Branson found the statements bizarre and warned the candidate that this sort of vengeance would do more harm than good.”There must be more constructive ways to spend the rest of your life,” he told Trump. “Hopefully my advice didn’t lead to him running for President!” Branson added in jest.
At some point, he even thought Trump had invited him to ask for financial assistance. “If he had, I would have become the sixth person on his list!”
Putting aside the absurd nature of this election season, where scandals have often taken precedence over policies, Branson labels Trump’s so-called candor a threat to America’s future. “What concerns me most, based upon my personal experiences with Donald Trump, is his vindictive streak, which could be so dangerous if he got into the White House,” he writes. “For somebody who is running to be the leader of the free world to be so wrapped up in himself, rather than concerned with global issues, is very worrying.”
Not only has Trump called global warming a hoax and backtracked on his support for America’s invasion of Iraq, his entire campaign has been laden with discriminatory language. He has defended not paying contractors because of their work supposedly being subpar and he has proudly admitted to avoiding paying federal taxes.
Branson’s story is reminiscent of Warren Buffett’s calling Trump’s bluff following his claim during the second presidential debate that Buffett was using the same tax loopholes that he did to avoid paying taxes for 18 years.
In contrast, at a one-to-one lunch with Hillary Clinton, who he has formally endorsed, Branson had a very different experience:
Here we talked about education reform, the war on drugs, women’s rights, conflicts around the globe and the death penalty. She was a good listener as well as an eloquent speaker. As she understands well, the President of the United States needs to understand and be engaged with wider world issues, rather than be consumed by petty personal quarrels.
While Branson has consistently expressed concern about Trump’s behavior, other influential figures are using denial as a crutch to continue supporting Trump. Renowned television and radio host Larry King has argued that Trump is not racist. (Try telling that to the Muslims and “bad hombres” of the country.) The lewd Access Hollywood tape, which surfaced various sexual misconduct allegations against the presidential candidate, forced many Republicans to withdraw their endorsements. However, a number of them conceded to backing him on Election Day, just to keep Clinton out of the White House.