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Hubbard Broadcasting CEO Explains Switch From Trump Blocker To Backer


At the very start of his campaign, Donald Trump made a virtue of his wealth. It was a measure of his independence.


DONALD TRUMP: I don't need anybody's money. I'm using my own money. I'm not using the lobbyists'. I'm not using donors'. I don't care. I'm really rich.

SIEGEL: But a general election campaign is really expensive, costing well over a billion dollars, and Mr. Trump's campaign and the super PAC that supports him are not courting donors. Some are reluctant. The Koch brothers are very prominently on the sidelines so far.

But others, like our next guest, are setting aside their past misgivings. Joining us from St. Paul, Minn., is Stanley Hubbard, chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting. Welcome to the program, Sir.

STANLEY HUBBARD: Hi. How are you?

SIEGEL: Fine. Not too long ago, you gave $10,000 to the Our Principles PAC, the stop-Trump group. Now you're on the advisory board of the pro-Trump Great America PAC. What changed your mind?

HUBBARD: Well, all my candidates dropped out one by one, and I'm a team player. And we ended up with one guy standing. His name is Trump. And I'm a team player.

SIEGEL: But in the past, you have had some differences with them. You've said that you took issues with what Mr. Trump said about Mexicans. Do you expect him to be more of a team player and moderate his remarks now that he's trying to reconcile with the Republican leadership, say?

HUBBARD: Well, I don't know about the Republican leadership because it seems to me that at this point, he's the Republican leadership. My guess is he's an intelligent person, and he'll moderate his views.

SIEGEL: Is it harder, do you think, to raise money - was it harder for someone to solicit money from you for someone who, let's say, in the space of a day can take two different positions on tax rates for the rich and a higher minimum wage for the poor?

HUBBARD: What politician doesn't do that?

SIEGEL: Well, within one day, it's unusual to hear people change that rapidly on a key position.

HUBBARD: Depends if you're talking on the air or behind closed doors.

SIEGEL: You think that when you talk to people privately, when you have in the past, you might hear them say something different than what's being said.

HUBBARD: That's exactly right.

SIEGEL: Are you hearing from other folks that they're as eager as you, or do you encounter reluctance from people you know?

HUBBARD: I've heard a lot of folks say - a lot of folks - my phones are ringing from really good, solid people who are Republicans. And by the way, I'm not a Republican. If Harry Truman were running, I'd vote for him.

But I've heard from a lot of people saying, you know, good for you. It's time somebody stand up. I don't know what's wrong with these so-called party leaders. They can't have it their way, so they're going to take the ball and go home. People are fed up with that attitude, and these so-called party leaders better get onboard.

SIEGEL: So when the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell - when they meet this week with Mr. Trump, you think the burden is on them to embrace the candidate, not for the candidate to embrace the congressional leadership, if I hear you right?

HUBBARD: Well, I think the burden's on both of them to hear each other and to sensibly decide what's right and what's wrong.

SIEGEL: Do you have any reservations about the character traits that Donald Trump's critics have cited - his comments about, you know, about Mexicans being murderers and rapists, banning Muslims from the country? Does any of this stuff give you pause?

HUBBARD: Well, I don't like it very much, and I think he has to spell out, for example, about banning Muslims. I understand what he really said was, we should ban Muslims until we find a proper way to see if they're safe to come to the country - didn't say ban them permanently. So I'm sure that he'll be moderate on a lot of these things that were taken another way.

SIEGEL: What kind of a general election campaign are you - do you expect?

HUBBARD: Oh, I wouldn't want to be Hillary Clinton.

SIEGEL: You think it's going to be a nasty campaign?

HUBBARD: Well, I think it's going to be a campaign that's going to gloves off (laughter). You can call it nasty. I'll call it tough - two-fisted.

SIEGEL: By being on the advisory board to the pro-Trump Great American PAC, have you signed on for an amount of money that you're going to contribute to this (inaudible)?

HUBBARD: No, I have not. We haven't even talked about money.

SIEGEL: Is it conditional?

HUBBARD: But I'm sure it's going to cost me something.

SIEGEL: (Laughter) But is it something that will be conditional depending on how the campaign goes and what Mr. Trump says, or is this the sort of thing you sign on for at the beginning and you're there through November?

HUBBARD: Well, I think I sign on. I'm probably there through November. And I tell you. There are a lot of other places I'd rather spend my money. But to me, it's - our country is very important. We got to get rid of all these regulations, give the little guy a chance to get ahead and stop all this government interference in our lives.

SIEGEL: Are you equally concerned about the down-ballot races?

HUBBARD: Absolutely, although I support some Democrats.

SIEGEL: You do.

HUBBARD: Sure, absolutely. I'm an independent - Amy Klobuchar - terrific senator. She's willing to listen to you. We don't all agree about a lot of things, but she's an honest, straightforward person.

HUBBARD: Amy Klobuchar, of course, is a Democratic senator from your state, from Minnesota.


SIEGEL: Well, Mr. Hubbard, thanks a lot for talking with us today.

HUBBARD: My pleasure. Nice talking to you.

SIEGEL: That's Stanley Hubbard, who is the chairman and CEO of Hubbard Broadcasting in St. Paul, Minn. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.