Venture capitalist Peter Thiel on Thursday night told the Republican National Convention that he is supporting Donald Trump because of his belief that the GOP presidential nominee will not get the country into unnecessary foreign entanglements. He also had some mild admonishments for the GOP, drawing cheers from the crowd, arguing that the party focuses too much on cultural policies like those that discriminate against LGBT Americans.
“Fake culture wars only distract us from our economic decline, and no one in this race is being honest about it except Donald Trump,” said Thiel, a PayPal (PYPL) co-founder and Facebook (FB) director.
The speech had been widely anticipated in left-leaning Silicon Valley, where Thiel is known as a staunch libertarian. His decision to serve as a California delegate for Trump raised eyebrows among peers, and his decision to speak at the convention sparked all sorts of questions over whether he had any ulterior motives.
But Thiel made little mention of libertarian ideals, saying, “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. Most of all, I’m proud to be an American.”
He also gave some anti-Hillary red meat to the crowd and argued that his Clinton-supporting Silicon Valley brethren are too insular to understand the economic pain of everyday Americans.
“My industry has made a lot of progress in computers and in software and it’s made a lot of money,” Thiel said. “But Silicon Valley is a small place and, if you drive to Sacramento or even across the bridge to Oakland, you won’t see much prosperity. That’s how small it is.”