Media mogul Robert Johnson has been a longtime Democrat but now says the party’s slide to the left has turned him off.
The founder of Black Entertainment Television praised President Donald Trump in a recent interview despite his support of Hillary Clinton in the 2106 election, and complained that partisan politics have “become very wicked and very mean.”
“The party in my opinion, for me personally, has moved too far to the left,” Johnson told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble Tuesday, describing himself as a centrist.
“And for that reason, I don’t have a particular candidate (I’m supporting) in the party at this time,” he said. “I think at the end of the day, if a Democrat is going to beat Trump, that person, he or she, is going to have to move to the center and you can’t wait too long to do that.”
Johnson conceded that the Democratic Party’s left-leaning stance may work well in the primaries, but will not help candidates in a general election especially since Trump has his “base locked up.”
“The message of some of the programs that Democrats are pushing are not resonating with the majority of the American people,” Johnson added.
The 73-year-old who also founded RLJ Companies, became America’s first African-American billionaire after selling BET to Viacom in 2001, according to Forbes.
Despite his support of Clinton, Johnson said he had to give Trump “a lot of credit” for his accomplishments with the economy.
“I think the economy is doing great, and it’s reaching populations that heretofore had very bad problems in terms of jobs and employment and the opportunities that come with employment … so African-American unemployment is at its lowest level, ” Johnson said.
“I give the president a lot of credit for moving the economy in a positive direction that’s benefiting a large amount of Americans,” he added. “I think the tax cuts clearly helped stimulate the economy. I think business people have more confidence in the way the economy is going.”
He admitted the trade war with China is a concern but added that “overall, if you look at the U.S. economy … you got to give the president an A+ for that.”
Johnson told CNBC that between Trump and Democrats, there is “really no give or take in terms of trying to come to an understanding of how best to run the country.”
“If business people are concerned about anything, it’s the clear, clear partisan politics that’s become very wicked and very mean. And that’s not helping the American people, and it’s not helping America as a global nation,” he said.
He suggested the president needs to “step back a little bit from some of his showmanship,” but acknowledged that Trump has “got his own style.”
“A lot of people are not going to like that style, but when he says he’s going to try to do something economically, you have to give him credit for taking some specific steps to do that,” Johnson said.
“At the end of the day, the American people are looking for someone who can deliver economically and deliver on opportunities,” he said.
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