It’s 2016 and the Democratic nominee is using a billionaire reality television star to hammer the Republican nominee, a self-proclaimed billionaire former reality television star.
Mark Cuban, wearing a clinging Batman T-shirt said hello to the crowd at a rally in Pittsburgh Saturday night—his hometown—in Russian, mocking the alleged ties between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. From there, reading from prepared remarks, the Shark Tank star made an adamant case against Trump, who in recent days Cuban has deemed to be crazy and not as successful as him.
“Leadership is not yelling and screaming and intimidating,” the owner of the Dallas Mavericks said. “People like that in Pittsburgh are called a jagoff—Is there any bigger jagoff in the world than Donald Trump?”
Cuban calls himself an independent and despite showing recent leanings toward Clinton, had threatened to back Trump if the Democratic nominee had chosen Sen. Elizabeth Warren as her running mate. She did not and on Thursday, prior to Clinton’s speech, Cuban reportedly called campaign chairman John Podesta to say that he was officially on board.
“I just thought it was the right thing to do,” Cuban said in an email to The Daily Beast. “That she would make a strong president.”
He initially had high hopes for the candidacy of Trump—a fellow businessman who Cuban thought could revolutionize the office and could offer a fresh-faced approach.
“Donald, initially, I really hoped he would be something different, that as a businessperson, I thought there was an opportunity there,” he told CNN at the rally on Saturday. “But then, he went off the reservation and went batshit crazy.”
He didn’t specify what this was in reference to but in just the last few days, Trump lied about the NFL contacting him to change the general election debate schedule, he criticized a fire marshal who helped him get out of a stalled elevator and went after Ghazala Khan, the mother of a 27-year-old Muslim war hero who was too emotional to speak during her husband’s speech at the DNC this week.
Cuban’s attacks echoed those of another independent who recently came to bat for Clinton: Michael Bloomberg. The former New York City mayor questioned Trump’s wealth in his endorsement speech at the RNC, something which elicited a torrent of angry tweets (Trump’s preferred method of communication).
“What you don’t do,” Cuban said after sharing his entrepreneurial success story. “You don’t ask daddy for a small loan of a million dollars.”
In May, Cuban potentially tipped his hand that the Clinton campaign was interested in at least having him on board as a bulldog surrogate. He told The Daily Beast that the two parties had been in communication to set up a meeting.
“There is so much partisan and tribal politics, from not just those seeking office but potential voters as well, that we never get real attempts at solutions to problems,” Cuban explained then.
“I think I can push at least a tiny bit more discussion around the issues,” he continued. “More depth, less dogma. I'm not suggesting I'm going to have some earth-shattering impact, but there is no one acting as a stalking horse for solutions. Maybe I can create some discussion that helps the process.”
Now that he’s gotten a taste of the limelight that accompanies a political campaign, it would not be surprising to see Cuban back out on the trail at some later stage. But Cuban told The Daily Beast nothing was set at the moment.
“I think she will be a strong president and that Trump would be a disaster as a president,” he said.
In Pittsburgh, Cuban seemed to have cribbed from the central ideas of the speeches throughout the Democratic National Convention this week; emphasizing optimism over negativity and characterizing the country as a place that was already great.
“In Hillary Clinton’s America, the American dream is alive and well,” Cuban concluded. “And there’s no place that knows that better than Pittsburgh because we are an American dream city.”