Michigan businessperson Shri Thanedar — having put millions of dollars of his own money into television ads calling himself the “most progressive” candidate in the race — is now leading the race for the Democratic nomination for governor of the state.
But the strength of Thanedar’s ideological core has been called into question. Although he has branded himself as a “fiscally savvy Bernie,” numerous prominent political consultants from both parties told The Intercept in April that he had gone to them before announcing and had considered running as a Republican instead.
One of those consultants, Joe DiSano, noted that Thanedar had spent much of 2016 attending political rallies of both parties in Iowa, and that he “was particularly enamored with Marco Rubio.”
In an interview with The Intercept, Thanedar acknowledged that he did attend a variety of campaign rallies in 2016, but denied that he had any love for Rubio, describing his activities in Iowa as more of a political tourist.
“[DiSano] mentioned that you really seemed to like Rubio,” we asked.
“No, no. I just really like politics. And I’m fascinated by American presidency. American president is such a powerful leader of the free world. … So I went to house parties, I went to several presentations by the Clintons, I went to rallies by Bernie [Sanders], and I also went to some rallies by some of the Republican candidates,” he said. “But I’m more interested in the process.”
But judge for yourself how Thanedar felt about Rubio’s presidential campaign in 2016. Thanks to C-SPAN’s cameras, we are able to see Thanedar’s reactions to Rubio at a campaign rally two days before the pivotal Iowa caucuses.
As Rubio made the case for his candidacy and the ideas of the Republican Party, Thanedar can clearly be seen smiling and nodding. At one point, Rubio says, “Hillary Clinton cannot be commander in chief of the United States.” Thanedar claps with enthusiasm. Politeness? Or true affection?
Following the senator’s remarks, Thanedar walked up to Rubio and asked for a photo. “I’m an immigrant like your father,” he said to Rubio. “I started my own business and create many jobs.”
Although Rubio is sometimes portrayed as a moderate voice in the Republican Party, the reality is that he ran for president on a considerably right-wing platform. For instance, his tax plan would have handed Americans earning over $3.7 million an average tax cut of $900,000, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center.