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Now In Hillary's Corner, Businessman Mark Cuban Offers Up Debate Tips


Mark Cuban has become involved in the 2016 presidential campaign - and not just with his checkbook. Mr. Cuban is an investor who also plays one on TV on "Shark Tank." He also owns the Dallas Mavericks, Landmark Theatres and Magnolia Pictures.

And he's recently been on the road, speaking in behalf of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Mark Cuban joins us now from member station KERA in Dallas. Thanks so much for being with us.

MARK CUBAN: Thanks for inviting me.

SIMON: You weren't always in Hillary Clinton's corner, were you?

CUBAN: No, not at all. And I've been pretty much apolitical my entire adult life. But this election is obviously quite different than previous presidential elections. So I just thought - I thought it was necessary to jump in and use my voice.


CUBAN: The prospects of Donald Trump being president just scare the hell out of me. And that's coming after having initially, you know, supported him and hoped that he would be 180 degrees different from what he turned out to be.

SIMON: I mean, am I wrong? I seem to remember there was a time when you offered to be the running mate for either of them.

CUBAN: Oh, sure. Yeah, a lot of that was a little bit tongue-in-cheek. I didn't really expect that to happen. But, you know, there was a time when Donald first got into the race where I would talk to him on the phone.

And, you know, I'd email his assistant - he doesn't do email himself - I'd e-mail his assistant. And we'd exchange some ideas. Or I'd give him some information. And a lot of that - I had hoped, as a businessperson, he would have some level of pragmatism, that he'd have some level of situational awareness and understand context and bigger picture.

And that turned out not to be the case. And when Donald got the nomination, you know, I said to him that now's the time you have to start digging into policy. You have to understand what's going on.

And that just is not Donald Trump. When you look at policy wonk in the dictionary, the one picture you won't see is Donald Trump.

SIMON: I think a lot of people will notice we've gotten this far in the conversation, and I'm not sure you've actually mentioned Hillary Clinton.

CUBAN: (Laughter) Yeah. Well, I mean, you know, talking about her - she's smart. She's pragmatic. She is a policy wonk. She's had a lifetime of dedication to service. Now, that doesn't mean I agree with all of her policies. But without question, I think she can be a good president.

SIMON: Is she trustworthy?

CUBAN: Yes, absolutely - 100 percent without question. Now, relative to Donald Trump, it's even a bigger dichotomy. Donald Trump I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw him.

SIMON: Is being successful in business good preparation for being president?

CUBAN: I don't think it's a requirement to have a life in public service to be the president. But at the same time, the skillset that at least I've gotten - and I'm only speaking from my personal experiences - I think, would be very valuable.

There's an understanding of the economy. There's an understanding of what it takes to start and run a business. There's an understanding of failure for those of us who recognize when we failed, unlike Donald Trump.

SIMON: Is it true that you offered to play Donald Trump in Hillary Clinton's debate preparation?

CUBAN: No, I was never asked. But I did offer in a made-for-TV. No, just kidding (laughter).

SIMON: Even if you're not helping to prepare Hillary Clinton for the debate, would you give her any advice on how to - if I might put it this way - provoke Donald Trump?

CUBAN: Oh yeah, that's easy. Yeah, I mean, look, Donald Trump has got unlimited number of insecurities. But the No. 1 one thing, I would say, is his insecurity with his intellect. There's a reason why he always refers to where he went to college and, you know, that I'm a smart person.

You know, it may be narcissism. But I think it really reflects an insecurity. And if I was in a debate against him, I wouldn't do it all the time. But I'd pick my spots just to smile and shake my head, you know, and make sure he sees it because that will drive him nuts because it'll be just a passive-aggressive way to question his intellect.

And that's not something he can stand because, as you know, in so many of his comments, you know, he likes to - I'm pretty smart. I've got the world's best brain. I've got the world's best memory, et cetera, et cetera. And he's truly concerned with how people perceive his intellect.

And so anything that you can do to make him think you're questioning that - it'll take him off topic - not that he stays on topic anyways. But I think it would really - it would get an emotional reaction from him. And that's what you would want in a debate.

SIMON: Mark Cuban from Dallas, thanks so much for being with us.

CUBAN: Thanks. I enjoyed it. Thanks, Scott. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.