The reclusive, super-wealthy Republican donor Harold Simmons sat down for aninterview with the Wall Street Journal in which he explained why he decided to donate $18 million to conservative super PACs. To put it bluntly: he despises and fears President Barack Obama.
"Any of these Republicans would make a better president than that socialist, Obama," Simmons told the Journal (subscription required), in what is the piece's most provocative quote. "Obama is the most dangerous American alive … because he would eliminate free enterprise in this country."
An industrialist who heads Contran Corp., Simmons is not as well known as his fellow deep-pocketed, super PAC-backing brethren, Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess. But the total number of dollars he's given makes him the biggest giver so far this election cycle. His sit-down with the Journal provided one of the first actual windows into what animates his politics
The 80-year-old Texan takes his political advice from Karl Rove. And at another point in the interview, he insisted that if more campaign commercials had been run tying then-Sen. Obama to Bill Ayers, "we" -- as in conservatives -- "could have killed Obama." By this, he is speaking metaphorically, though the impression is left that those very ads will be featured more prominently in 2012.
While Simmons bemoans the suffocating effect Obama has had on the free enterprise, the Journal notes that his own net worth is skyrocketing under this presidency, from $4.1 billion in 2006 to an estimated $10 billion today. That 0.18 percent of that $10 billion figure has been sent to super PACs this cycle underscores just how much more money is likely to be spent as the campaign progresses.
The Obama re-election arm is certainly aware of this. It's why the president -- having previously shunned super PACs -- has now authorized top aides to speak to prospective donors. More proactively, progressive groups have begun to assemble a campaign-like apparatus to turn the heat on those donors who write big checks to conservative causes, whether it be digging up dirt on their business practices or pressuring consumers to boycott their companies.