The 2024 presidential field is starting to take shape, and some big name investors are already choosing candidates to back. Gillian Tett, The Financial Times Chair Editorial Board, Editor-at-Large, US, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the 2024 field.
JULIE HYMAN: Let's talk now about ties between the business and political communities. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has endorsed Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s 2024 bid, saying he can and will win the presidential election. Kennedy, son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, is a noted anti-vaccine activist widely regarded as a long-shot compared to, say, the likes of incumbent Joe Biden.
As of yet, endorsements have been relatively scarce among the 2024 field. The candidate pool is already plenty crowded, though, including former President Trump, Joe Biden, Ron DeSantis, and it's growing. Three more GOP candidates are expected to enter the race this week.
Joining us now to talk about all of this is Gillian Tett chair of the Financial Times editorial board and editor at large of US. Gillian, you recently wrote about potential other entrants into the race. Jamie Dimon is someone that folks have been talking about here. He said, you know, he would want to serve the US in some capacity, and it sounds like some people are encouraging him to do so. I mean, is this another Michael Bloomberg situation, or what do you think is the outcome here?
GILLIAN TETT: Well, it's truly fascinating. I mean, Jamie Dimon has been mentioned as a possible candidate for public office for a very long time. I remember people were talking about him as Treasury Secretary before, and that's in many ways natural because he's had such an extraordinary long reign on Wall Street that he's had plenty of chance to become, you know, almost a global statesman and to play a much wider role than an average bank CEO would do.
However, what sparked the latest speculation is Bill Ackman, the activist, tweeting out last week a plea-- a heartfelt plea to Jamie to run basically. And it's striking because it indicates, as you've said, the degree to which the big money on Wall Street and elsewhere in the country hasn't thrown its weight behind many candidates yet.
Many of the CEOs and big financiers I speak to are feeling, frankly, a bit like political orphans in the sense that many of them who are Democrats are deeply concerned about Joe Biden's age, they don't like Kamala Harris, but they don't see many other people in the Democrat field yet to back.
On the Republican side, there is deep concern amongst the people I've spoken to who are Republicans amongst the business community about the idea of Donald Trump running. And there's a desperate search for some centrist candidates that could potentially provide an alternative. So in many ways, the fact that Jamie Dimon's name is being tossed around is a sign of the anguish, if you like, that many of the big donors feel right now about who on Earth to back in this race.
BRAD SMITH: And so that's the big money perspective, but what would a Wall Street magnate mean for the voting population more broadly and people who have looked at some of the wealthiest and now seeing them amass into some of the-- or at least matriculate into some of the positions of power politically?
GILLIAN TETT: Well, I read a column about Jamie Dimon running last week, and I had a deluge of emails from people saying, you know, ugh, we cannot stomach the thought of having a Wall Street CEO as president because it's going to be more special interests, pro-Wall Street policies. Why do we need, you know, another ultra wealthy person running the country?
And of course, Mike Bloomberg is very much an example of what can go horribly wrong. You know, he spent an estimated billion dollars running for president, and he really didn't get much support at all. The flip side, though, is that Mike Bloomberg did enter very late. He's not a very good retail politician. He hasn't got a warm feeling with ordinary people. And if you want the counter example, until recently, no one could ever imagine that a real estate CEO from New York could possibly become president either, and look at Donald Trump.
Now, supporters of Jamie Dimon, like Bill Ackman, say that Dimon has, you know, a good, populist touch when he's actually out in the field. He's good at talking to ordinary people. He's got plenty of charisma. He's not afraid of speaking his mind. And he has clear cut leadership gravitas credibility. Whether that could possibly cancel out the perception of him being yet another globalist elitist of the sort that many American voters hate is completely unclear right now.
JULIE HYMAN: I'm really struck by the endorsements that have come out, Gillian. I mean, Dorsey and RFK Jr. I don't even know what to think about that one. I don't think that that moves the needle a lot. But there are quite a number of endorsements on the right, right? You know, if you look at Ron DeSantis, Ken Griffin apparently has endorsed him. David Sachs, Peter Thiel. There's a bit of a theme there, of course. But you do have to wonder, to your point, the sort of more moderate business community, who their candidate could even be. Do they-- at the end of the day, do they just go behind Biden if there aren't any other viable candidates?
GILLIAN TETT: Well, this is what I mean by the problem of being politically orphaned. You know, I'm not asking for a violin for the donors at all, but this is exactly how many of them feel. They have nowhere to go. Last autumn, late last year, there was a real hope amongst many centrists that Ron DeSantis could potentially be a more palatable and more effective version of Donald Trump. And so a lot of the big money was moving there and preemptively to try and back him.
Since then, three things have happened, which have basically caused a lot of disillusionment. One has been Ron DeSantis's view on abortion, which is not where most donors' heads are when I speak to them. Some of them may indeed want controls on abortion but not the level of ban that he's proposing. Secondly, his views on Ukraine have caused considerable unease amongst some of the more hawkish members of the Republican Party with big pockets because, you know, there is a feeling that actually the US has to stand behind Ukraine and DeSantis seems very ambivalent about that.
The third and most basic problem with DeSantis is his lack of retail politician touch. He's just not very charismatic or cuddly or approachable or, frankly, very attractive in the eyes of ordinary people when he actually goes amongst and does his meet and greets. He turned up in London a couple of weeks ago and really got a terrible reception because people were very put off by his wooden approach. In the last few days he's been trying to be a bit more accessible. We've seen, you know, quasi walkabouts to meet voters. But even those haven't gone very well either.
So those three things are causing a real rethink amongst the centrist Republican donors. They're looking at other people. Youngkin is one. There's a number of other names coming up. But certainly, at this point in the race, it's very, very fluid and uncertain, which is both alarming for those who don't want to see a Biden-Trump rematch but also, if you like, quite encouraging for those who hope that somebody could suddenly break through now as, say, Barack Obama did in the earlier races this century.
BRAD SMITH: You know, 17 months out from the election, is there a candidate that could throw their hat into the ring that would absolutely blow up the field right now?
GILLIAN TETT: [LAUGHS] Well, the one that people often talk about on the Democrat side is Michelle Obama. She made very clear that she doesn't want to run at the moment. On the Democrat side, it's very hard to see right now, you know? I mean, someone like Jamie Dimon could emerge as a wild card. You know, Bill Ackman tells me that since he put out those tweets, which he says he didn't do with Dimon's blessing, but he said since he's put out those tweets, he's had a, you know, huge number of people expressing their support for him potentially. But it remains to be seen whether it's serious or not.
On the Republican side, it's hard to see right now how many people are willing to throw their hat in the ring against Donald Trump because the reality is that those who have in the last few years for the most part have suffered badly as a result. The other big question everyone's asking amongst the donor community is, could there be possibly a third party independent candidate? And there, all eyes are on Joe Manchin and the Senator from West Virginia who turned up at Milken Conference recently in Los Angeles with all the big financiers and private equity folks.
And there was a big buzz about, you know, is he going to try and do a third party run with the backing of the No Labels political platform You know, it's possible that he will. It's not yet clear, but it's possible that he will. And if in six months time there's a still sense of number of donors feeling like political orphans, maybe they will try and rally around that. But that's, you know, not my dominant probability for the next few months.
BRAD SMITH: All right, we're going to be tracking the moving probabilities almost like we're-- our own CME Fed watch, if you will. Gillian Tett, chair of the Financial Times, editor-- editorial board and editor at large in the US. Thanks so much, Gillian. Great to speak with you.
GILLIAN TETT: Thank you.