South Florida billionaire Mike Fernández, founder of MBF Healthcare Partners and noted Republican donor, gave students in The Election class a rounded perspective of issues leading up to the general election weeks away.
Throughout the discussion Fernández called out Republican candidate Donald Trump and spoke about his personal experience with the businessman-turned-politician.
“I am a Republican; I have not switched parties, but I think Donald Trump is a dangerous man. My son says that when I exaggerate issues, that I am ‘Cubanizing’ them. I speak as frankly and logically as I can, when I say that Donald Trump is the most dangerous man in United States history,” said Fernández. “More dangerous than World War I, World War II, the Iraq war and the war in Vietnam, because this time, the enemy is from within.”
Among being called one of the “50 Most Influential Latino Republicans” by Newsweek, Fernández, a Cuban-American immigrant, was also named one of the all-time most prolific political donors by the New York Times.
Fernandez shared a story about when he met Trump. According to Fernández, they met at a restaurant where Trump was giving the waiter “a hard time” about their order.
“I said to him: ‘You know Donald, this man is just trying to make his way in life. You should cut him some slack,’” said Fernández.
According to Fernández, Trump said “He has no excuse, he works for me.” Due to their initial encounter, Fernández said he “cannot support a man like that.” Despite not having met Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, he has donated $7 million dollars to her electoral campaign.
Fernández spoke about the power of money in politics. As a heavyweight donor, he said he has access to prominent figures in politics that most people don’t.
“Politicians respond to money. This is a fact,” Fernández said.
Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy joined Fernández and spoke with students briefly about his bid for the Florida Senate in the upcoming election. Murphy spoke about investing in climate change and education as being a necessity for the U.S. to adapt to changing conditions.
Murphy noted the personal relationship he shared with Mr. Fernández, and said he knew him from an early age.
“My friend, Mr. Fernández, did not come to this country because of Republicans or Democrats. He came because of the American flag, and the opportunity within,” Murphy said.
In a separate discussion following the two guests, Lieutenant Colonel Allen West, former congressman of Florida’s 22nd district, gave a counter-perspective on Donald Trump and the state of the country. West spoke about his worries for the state of the country because of voter behaviors.
“People vote based on impulse, and not based on a thought as to the direction of the country,” he said.
Although West is voting for Trump, he said his support for the candidate is wavering as he disagrees with a number of platforms which the candidate has adopted.
The speakers served as a continuation of the course “The Election,” which brings in noted guest speakers to personally meet students and answer questions as they pertain to the upcoming election and politics at large.