Elon Musk urges GOP elite to be more compassionate at donor retreat
Elon Musk told GOP congressional leaders and big-money donors Tuesday that Republicans need to show voters a more compassionate front and target immigrants like him, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: While Musk has publicly flirted with the Republican Party throughout the year, his participation in an exclusive GOP retreat in Wyoming marks a new level of commitment in helping the party set its agenda and prepare for its eventual takeover of the House of Representatives.
Driving the news: Musk offered a robust defense of capitalism in addition to some policy advice at House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s annual donor retreat in Jackson, where the billionaire CEO of Tesla was McCarthy’s personal guest.
- With the Grand Tetons behind him, the potential next Speaker of the House led a Q&A with the potential next owner of Twitter.
- McCarthy has developed a relationship with Musk for over a decade, introducing him as the “Thomas Edison of our time” and framing discussion of how he built successful companies like Tesla and SpaceX.
- Across the state, primary voters rejected Rep. Liz Cheney, who would be overwhelmingly defeated by her Trump-backed challenger at the end of the night.
What you say: Musk suggested that the country would thrive if Republicans “stay out of people’s bedrooms” and Democrats “stay out of people’s wallets,” according to participants.
- He celebrated free markets and warned of the dangers of socialism – messages that went down well with audiences.
- When asked by a donor what the Republican Party needs to do better, the South African-born Musk replied that it should be more compassionate towards potential newcomers, noting that he chose America because of its opportunities. Immigrants, he said, are critical to maintaining a vibrant economy.
- Before dinner, Musk tweeted: “To be clear, I support the left half of the Republican Party and the right half of the Democratic Party!”
- Musk and McCarthy officials did not respond to requests for comment on Musk’s private comments.
Between the lines: Musk who has indicated that he likes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, elected president in 2024 and elected Republican for the first time in his life when he pulled the lever for Rep. Mayra Flores in a June special congressional election in Texas, did not declare himself a fellow Republican .
- Some donors left dinner at the home of John Nau — the CEO of Silver Eagle Beverages, a major Anheuser-Busch distributor — convinced that Musk was a kindred spirit but perhaps not yet a staunch conservative.
- Republicans have vowed to crack down on big tech if it takes control — particularly social media platforms like Twitter, which Musk is currently fighting in a Delaware court after pulling the plug on his takeover.
- They’ve also downplayed the need to take action on climate change, which Musk has dedicated his career to.
The bottom line: Musk didn’t appear to be writing checks to the Congressional Leadership Fund, McCarthy’s PAC, or Republican campaign committees.
- He did, however, complain about his $11 billion tax bill for selling Tesla stock — which got the audience laughing with his claim that the IRS didn’t really know how to deal with it.
Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Musk is the CEO of Tesla, not the founder. It was also updated with additional details on Musk’s message.