Tesla CEO: Political ‘punching bag’

Nov 13, 2012

FORTUNE -- During the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney raised Silicon Valley eyebrows by suggesting that electric car-maker Tesla Motors Inc. (tsla) was a "loser," akin to failed solar company Solyndra.

The comment was roundly criticized, particularly given that Tesla has been well-received by the public markets and says that it is on track to repay its Department of Energy loan ahead of schedule. Today, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stopped by CNBC on the occasion of its "Model S" winning Motor Trend's Car of the Year award. When asked about his company's cameo as a "political football" during the presidential campaign, Musk replied:

"A political punching bag, maybe. I wish I was a political football.... I'm just relieved the election's over. Oh, my God! I was tired of getting pummeled. Politically I'm somewhat i'm somewhat of an independent. I've supported both republicans and democrats. I'm not a hard-core one way or the other, and I mean, I think i'm moderate. Frankly, I think I'm probably right where most Americans are, actually...

The nature of the two-party system is that any given issue is going to fall into either the Republican or the Democrat camp. and that doesn't mean that one agrees with all things in one camp or the other. i think most Americans wouldn't say that they agree with everything, you know, in one camp or another. But that's just the way it goes. And i do think that in this case, that the Democrat side is right about environmental issues....

At some point, we'll run out of oil, okay? So we know that's going to happen. What we don't know is what the effect of putting all of that CO2 in the atmosphere is going to be. But since we're going to run out of it anyway, why don't we transition to a sustainable mode of transport and energy generation, soon rather than later, and not run that experiment?"

Here's the full interview:

[cnnmoney-cnbc vid=http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000128263]

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: http://www.djindexes.com/mdsidx/html/tandc/indexestandcs.html. S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions