On Tuesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hosted his annual, big-dollar donor retreat at the home of Silver Eagle Beverages CEO John Nau in Wyoming. One surprise speaker was Tesla CEO Elon Musk who attended as McCarthy’s personal guest. Musk delivered a prepared set of remarks and then took questions from the audience. According to some attendees who spoke to Axios, Musk bounced back and forth between topics popular with conservatives and the more libertarian ideals that he frequently expresses on social media. During the Q&A portion, one attendee asked Musk what the Republican Party could be doing better. He responded by saying that the GOP needed to be more “compassionate” toward potential newcomers to the party, seemingly suggesting that they needed to open up the tent a bit wider, particularly when it comes to social issues. So does this mean that the billionaire is signing up to be a card-carrying member of the party now? Apparently not. But he’s at least willing to engage in a dialogue.
Elon Musk told GOP congressional leaders and big-dollar donors on Tuesday that Republicans need to present a more compassionate front to voters and appeal to immigrants like himself, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: While Musk has been publicly flirting with the Republican Party all year, his attendance at an exclusive GOP retreat in Wyoming marks a new level of involvement in helping the party define its agenda and prepare for its potential takeover of the House.
Driving the news: Musk offered a robust defense of capitalism in addition to some political advice at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s annual donor retreat in Jackson, where the billionaire CEO of Tesla was a personal guest of McCarthy’s.
So what did Musk mean by saying that the party needed to be more compassionate, particularly to immigrants like himself? He probably gave a hint when he reportedly said that the country would be more prosperous “if Republicans stayed out of people’s bedrooms and Democrats stayed out of people’s wallets.”
That’s a fairly common sentiment among libertarians and fiscal conservatives, but not as popular with social conservatives. If the Republican Party in general spent more time focusing on increasing prosperity and opportunity for Americans and softened the focus on issues like gay marriage, they might not frighten off as many independents and libertarians who might otherwise embrace their fiscal policies and reject some of the insanity that the far left is promoting these days.
There’s no question that Musk is marching in step with the Republicans on issues of taxes and spending. He even made a joke during his remarks where he complained about the massive tax bill he was hit with after selling off a pile of his Tesla stock. He even managed to get in a jab at the IRS, suggesting they didn’t really understand how to calculate his taxes. And he’s previously been critical of Joe Biden’s border policies.
As Axios points out, Kevin McCarthy has been cultivating a relationship with Elon Musk for years. He frequently compliments him in public remarks and shows admiration for his business acumen and success. But that doesn’t mean that Musk is going to be changing his voter registration to the GOP any time soon. Attendees were also left with the impression that Musk was not there to personally donate any money to the party or any Republican candidates. But his attendance may have helped draw a more diverse crowd of potential donors, so perhaps he was at least helping the Republicans’ efforts in the midterms indirectly.
We’ll close out with one bit of Musk’s history of flirting with politics that may become a bigger issue if he jumps into the political ring with both feet. In a previous tweet, Elon seemed to at least suggest that he could be a supporter of Ron DeSantis in 2024. Will that put him in Trump’s bullseye?
I supported Yang last time, but DeSantis has a better chance of winning
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 15, 2022