Peter Thiel distancing himself from Trump, believes he will lose election over pandemic-triggered poor economy
Thiel, one of Trump's most prominent supporters from Silicon Valley, is said to be losing faith in the president because of his coronavirus response
Billionaire Peter Thiel, once a prominent backer of Donald Trump and his administration, is distancing himself from the president because he feels the coronavirus pandemic and its devastating impact on the economy will render the prospect of his re-election unlikely, sources have revealed. Thiel, who is the co-founder of PayPal and is worth $2.3 billion, is a Libertarian but had been the only prominent figure in a largely-liberal Silicon Valley to openly support Trump during his 2016 campaign for the presidency.
He had donated $1.25 million to the campaign and spoken at the Republican National Convention, where he described Trump as the man who would be rebuilding America, but has become increasingly disillusioned over the handling of the pandemic. Sources close to the billionaire told the Wall Street Journal that Thiel believes the country's economy will be stuck in a deep recession with double-digit unemployment numbers when the elections come around in November, a scenario that will not bode well for a candidate looking for a second term in the Oval Office.
One person said Thiel, in conversation with friends and associates at his Hawaii home, compared Trump's campaign to the 'S.S. Minnow' - a ship that is infamous for running aground on the shore of the 'uncharted desert isle' in 'Gilligan's Island.'
His relationship with Trump had begun souring almost immediately after he took office in 2017, Buzzfeed reported. While supporting him in public, in private, he is said to have expressed concern over an "incompetent" administration that would "end in disaster." And while he did donate to Trump again during the midterm elections in 2018, it does not look like he is hedging his bets on him this time around. Sources revealed he is not planning to donate any money to his campaign or speak at the Republican National Convention this year.
A lot of the dissatisfaction stems from the president's handling of the pandemic, it was claimed. Thiel's big data analytics company, Palantir, has tied up with the Trump administration to build a 'single source' database to combat the Covid-19. The 'Protect Now' platform that was subsequently unveiled by the Department of Health and Human Services used data from across federal, state, and local governments as well as health care facilities and colleges to 'mitigate and prevent spread' of the coronavirus.
But Trump's once-common coronavirus press briefings that were often punctuated with ludicrous and over-the-top claims left the billionaire 'frustrated.' The president repeatedly gave conflicted messages about social distancing, refused to wear a mask even though it was mandated, touted an unproven drug as a possible cure for Covid-19, and then suggested bleach or disinfectant cleaner could be used to combat the virus.
In contrast, Thiel had been on the front foot when it came to the pandemic. He had recalled his Palantir staff from abroad in February, back when most of the world was still coming to terms with how quickly the virus was spreading.
Sources did admit that he was willing to cut Trump some slack over his response, but that he believed the president had not done enough to win re-election considering the last time the economy was in such a bad state was during the Great Depression almost a century ago. Instead of betting on the wrong horse, they said Thiel will instead use his money to fund GOP candidates in the House and the Senate so the party retains a majority in at least one branch of the government.