Peter Thiel backs Trump in Washington, D.C., speech

PayPal founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel says he is backing Republican Donald Trump because he's the only person left in the U.S. presidential race who's willing to admit that America is in decline.

'We're on the Titanic and it's about to sink,' Thiel says

Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and doubled down on his remarks this week. (Mike Segar/Reuters)

PayPal founder and Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel says he is backing Republican Donald Trump because he's the only person left in the race for the White House to admit that America is in decline.

"I worry about the decline," Thiel said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Monday. "I take it very seriously."

Thiel said he has a bias in favour of outsiders, noting that he supported Libertarian Ron Paul in 2012, and Carly Fiorina early in this campaign. He has thrown his support behind Trump, he said, because he's the only person left in the race who isn't a Washington insider removed from the way real people live.

"I would have liked to see race between Trump and Sanders because both viscerally feel the decline of America," Thiel said.

He characterized the current race between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Trump as "one person who says everything is more or less fine [and] one [who] says, 'We're on the Titanic and it's about to sink'," Thiel said.

"I prefer the second one."

Thiel has donated $1.25 million US to Trump's campaign and various super-PACs that back him in this election, after first having gone public with his support at the Republican National Convention this summer.

Thiel says he does not support some of Trump's most controversial comments, including what he has said about women. Yet, he said, Trump voters favor the New York businessman who has never held political office "because we judge the leadership of our country to have failed."

"No matter what happens," he said, "What Trump represents isn't crazy and it's not going away."

Among the Trump issues with which Thiel says he agrees: international trade deals not benefiting all Americans and too much U.S. involvement in wars abroad.

He also spoke about his role in the legal campaign against gossip and news website Gawker, in which he backed  wrestler Hulk Hogan's lawsuit against the site.

Thiel funded Hogan's legal campaign based on his belief that the since-shuttered website crossed too many journalistic lines, and provided no benefits to people.

"If you're middle class, if you're upper-middle class [or] a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan you have no effective access to our legal system," Thiel said. "It costs too much."

Describing the Gawker site as a "sociopathic bully," Thiel says he has no lawsuits against any other media entities, and disputed claims that his actions set a dangerous precedent for wealthy people to follow the next time they don't like what a media organization says.

"They lost on the facts," Thiel said.

Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, was outed as gay in 2007 by a Gawker-owned website. At that time, he said little about his sexuality, but has since come out publicly.


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