Foster Friess says he’s never taken requests to run for public office seriously, mostly because he suspects his solicitors of “angling to get an invite to my 80th birthday party.”
It’s not hard to see why they’d want that invite. For his 70th birthday, the Republican billionaire offered to donate $70,000 to a charity on behalf of one of the 100 couples who attended the event.
But when the envelopes were opened, every single couple received a $70,000 check, meaning Friess made $7,000,000 in donations that night. Attendees say the room was in tears.
“The room just exploded like a volcano,” Friess chuckles, recalling the emotional evening during an exclusive “Newsmakers” interview with The Daily Caller. “It was the greatest night.”
Friess, now 77, is wondering if he should bring that same charm to Washington. He’s actively considering a primary run against Republican Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso.
“This was a serious question that was posed, and I’d never thought about it, then I looked it up, and it pays $174,000 a year, and I’ve been out of work since 2011,” Friess jokes. The guy’s a joke machine, by the way.
Turning serious, he emphasizes that he’s “made it publicly clear that I’m a huge fan of John Barrasso. I admire him, and it’s just a question, do the people of Wyoming want to have Brian Griese or Aaron Rogers? What can I bring to the table that might not be in the Senate?”
One thing Friess thinks he can offer is in desperately short supply in Washington: civility.
“I think we need much more effort on [a] return to civility,” he begins, highlighting his recent “coffee break” challenge, which involves inviting an ideological opponent out for coffee and a conversation. The goal is to break down the easy barriers opponents can put up when they don’t know each other personally.
“It’s been a really nice experience,” Fries says of the coffee campaign. “One fellow had a business deal that went south a while back and he called up the guy and now they’re friends. I think it’s surprising how much we can achieve if people can get to know each other on a personal level.”
But there are plenty of forces looking to keep that coffee from happening, Friess points out, often by dividing Americans by race.
“It’s the emphasis of the media,” he says, “but if you go to any mall in America, you’ll see blacks, whites, Hispanics, fat people, skinny people, Republicans, Democrats all shopping together, eating in the food courts together, laughing together, so America’s a lot more united than the anarchy industry or grievance industry would want us to be.”
“So it’s a very small [number of] people who have a vested interest financially in generating this race issue,” says Friess.
Much of that “anarchy industry” has had its sights set on President Donald Trump, Friess says, and he thinks a Senate seat could be a useful perch to help the president fight back when Trump needs the support — including when the president is accused of racism.
“Well, what people maybe don’t know is he was interviewed and asked, ‘Why did you not join this very sophisticated club in Palm Beach?’ He said, ‘Well, I didn’t join it because they didn’t admit blacks and Jews.’ Well, I don’t know how many people have heard that,” Friess says, “and then when he started Mar-a-Lago, he invited blacks and Jews and gays. I think they’ve had a gay wedding at his club. So this isn’t something that, typically, racists do.”
Friess says he thinks its important that Trump have “someone in the Senate who brings out these points and sticks up for him when he needs to be backed up.”
Speaking of Trump, how does being a billionaire affect a man’s behavior? Friess, once called one of the 20th “century’s great investors,” is well-suited to assess that. (Editor’s note: He’s also one of the 21st century’s great investors, having helped start The Daily Caller.)
“Well, I think when you’re in a position where you don’t need donations from people that you have a certain amount of freedom of saying, you know, I can just say what I think is right, and I don’t have to worry about losing votes or I don’t have to worry about not getting elected.”
That authenticity is why Trump was able to appeal to the working class, Friess said, despite its traditional status as a Democratic base.
“I believe his freedom, his authenticity is why he’s completely stolen the entire Democratic base. Where are the plumbers, the electricians, the construction workers? When he does the Keystone pipeline, all these construction workers [are there.] So the public service unions still aren’t on board with it, but the craftsmen, the carpenters [are.]”
“So the people now running the Democratic Party are replacing the country club Republicans, where you have Facebook, Google, George Soros,” Friess continues. “These are now the downward forces at the top of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party no longer is the Republican Party.”
“In fact, [Sen.] Jeff Flake said these rallies that Trump has are the last vestiges of the Republican Party and he’s right, but not the way he thought, because basically, the Republican Party has now morphed into a completely different group of people where it supports the little guy, if you will. The people that make our country work. The plumbers, electricians, waitresses.”
“And I think those are the people, because of Trump’s authenticity, and because he is sincere about caring about them, why he’s stolen the complete Democratic constituency,” Friess says.
“They’re now this new party that might not be named the Republican Party. Let’s call it the American Party and have the American bison to replace the elephant,” Friess suggests.
Whatever you call the parties, Friess hopes politicians of all stripes can get together on at least one of his passions: requiring health-care providers to publicly disclose their prices.
Friess says his PatientsUSA.com “is promoting the publishing of all medical costs, health-care costs.” “Everyone” supports that, Friess says, including “Bernie supporters, Hillary supporters, [and] Trump supporters.”
The intent of is “to give the patient a seat at the table, which is currently dominated by the insurance companies, the hospital companies, and the drug companies. Where is the patient?”
If the patient can shop around based on the published price of a certain procedure, Friess explains, health-care costs could drop precipitously.
So what if he gets to the Senate? Would he move to get rid of the legislative filibuster to make it easier to advance his ideas, by way of a simple majority vote?
Friess’s answer, again, is he’d prefer to find broad agreement.
“I’ve given some thought to that. But I think there’s virtue in having a 60-vote so you know a lot of American people want it. To have it so close is so controversial. But if you know 60 votes won, then you know it’s something that people really want. And I think there’s a certain value to that.”