Foster Friess made his fortune in the mutual fund industry, but he burst onto the political scene last year as a GOP megadonor to Rick Santorum’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination. At a Monitor-sponsored breakfast with reporters Friday, the Wyoming-based Mr. Friess discussed the 2012 presidential campaign, gay marriage, his charity work, and a host of other issues.
But the man who once joked that “you know, back in my days, they’d use Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees, and it wasn’t that costly” has a unique way of getting his point across. Friday's event bore that out. Here are four top Friess-isms from his hour-long chat with the press.
The 2012 Republican primary – “For Democrats, this is a blood sport. For Republicans, this is a hobby, and that’s why the Democrats run the government and the Republicans run the museums.”
Friess added that he was in “awe, absolute awe, of the Democrats’ ability to campaign and organize” during the 2012 campaign. This dawned on him when phone-banking in Nevada for Mitt Romney, when he was “dialing up a fellow, I wasn’t quite sure I was going to pronounce his name right. And suddenly it dawns on me, ‘Who am I, a white guy from Wyoming, trying to convince this fellow to vote for Romney when Obama has had people in his neighborhood having dinners and barbecues and telling him [to vote for the president] for the last four years?’ ”
Homosexuality – “We have to protect the gay community from sharia law.”
Asked about the Republican Party’s relationship to gay marriage, Friess cited his love for his gay brother-in-law and the man’s partner, saying discriminating against them would be tantamount to limiting his own rights because “I happen to be 30 pounds overweight.
But his No. 1 fear for the gay community? That Islamic law would become an institution in the United States, a bugaboo of cultural conservatives that has shown little evidence of making inroads at the state or federal level.
Friess said the GOP should be more open to people with differing views on homosexuality. “I believe the Republican Party should allow each candidate to say what he wants to say.... But what is somewhat distressing, we are moving our country toward a state religion which says anybody who says homosexuality is biblically untrue is some kind of pariah and a fallback to the Neanderthal days.
The 1 percent – “If you tax me 10 percent more, am I going to sell my jet plane? No.”
Friess gave an impassioned defense of wealth in America, arguing that great wealth, paired with opportunities for social mobility, helped generate social good.
“If you tax me 10 percent more, am I going to sell my jet plane? No. Am I going to sell any of my beach houses? No. Am I going to change my lifestyle? No. What does it do to me? It’s just money that I can no longer give to these various causes I’ve been giving to,” Friess said.
“I’m not that generous that I’m going to give up my lifestyle if I don’t have to,” he continued, “but what I will give up is the ability to give to these other causes that are dear to my heart.”
“I am part of the 1 percent,” Friess said, “and I have no shame about that.”
The war on women – “I’m absolutely stunned that Democrats were somehow able to say that the Republicans had a war on women. When President Obama bows to a leader of a country that doesn’t allow women to vote or drive a car, how he got away with [asserting that Republicans attack women] is just stunning."
Friess was referring to a perception, widespread in conservative circles, that Mr. Obama had been too deferential to the king of Saudi Arabia during a visit there in 2009.
Too deferential would not be part of the Friess m.o. Friess, who made national headlines with his aspirin quip just over a year ago, decried the idea of a Republican war on women as a political assault manufactured by liberals that had no basis in reality.
“They took advantage of all the low-information women voters out there,” he argued, saying voters “who just follow Joy Behar” conflated the fact “that Rick Santorum, and Mother Teresa, believe that contraception is against Catholic teaching” with a Republican attempt to reduce access to birth control.
“Hugh Hefner even said this guy Friess wants to reverse the sexual revolution,” Friess said. “Well, I’ve got four kids, they are two years apart,” he said, laughing, “and contraception has been very, very good to me.”