Political stalwart and billionaire industrialist Charles Koch tells The Washington Post
that while he has yet to decide which presidential candidate he will endorse in 2016, he and his brother, David, are closely considering five (of the 17) they believe possess "some combination of probability of winning the nomination and of having the most issues that we agree on."
But Koch offers the caveat that he and his brother "don’t agree with any of them on all the issues."
In an April interview with USA Today, Koch indicated their interest in former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
All of the candidates, minus Paul, attended the recent Koch-funded Freedom Partners summer conference
in California, where hundreds of conservative mega-donors gathered to strategize for the 2016 election cycle. Paul turned down an invitation to appear.
Charles Koch characterized himself to the Post as a "classical liberal," not a Republican, who would like to see a president who can advance certain principles, such as criminal justice reform.
With a net worth of $39.9 billion, Charles Koch, along with his brother, is ranked by Forbes as the fourth richest person
in the United States and the sixth richest in the world.
"The trajectory of this country is not positive and particularly for the disadvantaged, as we see what’s happening," he said. "The gains in productivity have dropped, the gains in income for the middle class and the least advantaged have slowed, at best. So what I’m looking at is policies that will change that. And so generally what happens, over time, the growth of government and the intrusiveness in people’s lives has been almost identical in Republican and Democratic administrations."
While Koch finds GOP rhetoric more palatable than that of the Democrats, once candidates take office there’s little difference, he said.
"It’s serving their supporters, it’s corporate welfare, it’s cronyism which is so destructive, particularly to the disadvantaged," said Charles Koch. "I think the Democrats are taking us down the road to serfdom at 100 miles an hour, and I think the Republicans are taking us at 70 miles an hour.
"If we can have a candidate like Calvin Coolidge that would reverse that trajectory, or like [former prime minister William] Gladstone did in Great Britain, man, I would shout it to the world. But I haven’t seen that yet."
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