Kerry Lists Endorsements From 204 Corporate Leaders

Aug 4 2004

Kerry Lists Endorsements From 204 Corporate Leaders

Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) — Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry
released a list of 204 executives who endorse his economic policies,
including Oracle Corp. President Charles Phillips and David
Bonderman, founder of the buyout firm Texas Pacific Group.

Kerry trailed President George W. Bush in the number of chief
executives donating to their campaigns as of last month. Fifty-two
chief executives from Russell 1000 Index companies had donated money
to Kerry’s campaign, compared with 280 who gave to Bush’s re-election
bid, according PoliticalMoneyLine, a nonpartisan group based in

Five executives on Kerry’s list joined him in Davenport, Iowa, today
at what the campaign called an “economic summit.” They said the
Bush administration turned a budget surplus into a deficit and is
hurting U.S. standing and business interests around the world by the
way it is conducting foreign policy and the Iraq war.

“I think the deficit is just plain bad for the country and bad for
business,” Peter Chernin, chief operating officer of News Corp.,
told an audience of about 250. “I don’t think you can fight two
wars, one internationally and one domestically, and at the same time
cut taxes.” His company owns Fox News Channel.

In addition to Phillips and Chernin, those joining Kerry in Davenport
were Owsley Brown, chief executive of Brown-Forman Corp.; Charles
Gifford, chairman of Bank of America Corp.; and Penny Pritzker,
president of Pritzker Realty Group.

Kerry’s Plan

Phillips said, “Business people as well as financial markets are
really opposed to risk and uncertainty” and the “radical change in
our foreign policy in the last 12 months” has complicated decisions
about where and how to invest.

Kerry said that, as president, he would cut the deficit in half in
four years, cut corporate taxes by 5 percent while eliminating tax
breaks for companies creating jobs overseas, and relieve employers of
some costs of providing health care.

He also said he and his running mate, North Carolina Senator John
Edwards, who made a fortune as a trial lawyer, will show it’s
possible to cut back on “frivolous lawsuits” through changes to
tort and medical malpractice laws.

“There is a lot of disenchantment with Bush and his handling of the
economy,” said William Kennard, managing director at Carlyle Group
and former Federal Communications Commission chairman. He said some
people, including longtime Republicans, believe Bush “has squandered
an opportunity. He squandered the surplus in 2 1/2 years and he’s
passing on this debt to our children and grandchildren.”

Costco’s Sinegal

Glenn Hutchins, co-founder of buyout firm Silver Lake Partners, said
he tells business friends, “If George Bush was the chief executive
of a company, and we were the board of directors, we would have met
long ago and fired him.”

Also on Kerry’s list of current and former executives is Costco
Wholesale Corp. president and chief executive Jim Sinegal, a Democrat
who says Bush’s $1.7 trillion in tax cuts unfairly benefits the
wealthy. Sinegal, 68, heads the largest U.S. warehouse-club chain.

The Kerry list includes leaders of investment firms and banking
executives such as Thomas Johnson, chairman and chief executive of
Greenpoint Financial Corp., the second-biggest New York savings and
loan. Bonderman is managing partner at Texas Pacific Group, based in
Fort Worth.

“We are now mired in a struggle that is taking on some of the
aspects of a civil war” in Iraq said Johnson in an interview. “I
really question how we’ll be effective in ending that struggle.”

Bush’s Backers

Kerry, 60, a four-term U.S. senator from Massachusetts, said he and
Edwards, 51, are determined to create “a business climate that helps
companies succeed and create good paying jobs right here in

“We’ve assembled some of the best leaders in our country, who are
supporting my candidacy for president because they believe — even at
the risk of becoming involved in politics, which is not easy for CEOs
and companies — they believe we can do better,” Kerry said.

Bush has won financial backing from the CEOs of nine of the top 10
U.S. companies ranked by market capitalization, including Intel Corp.
CEO Craig Barrett, 64. Pfizer Inc. CEO Hank McKinnell and American
International Group Inc. CEO Maurice Greenberg, 79, each have raised
at least $200,000 for Bush.

“Our campaign enjoys broad support with an array of business
leaders,” said Scott Stanzel, a Bush campaign spokesman. “Small
business men and women throughout this country know that Kerry’s
plans for higher taxes, more regulation and more litigation would
derail our economy and kill jobs throughout the country.”

Giving the Maximum

At least three executives on Kerry’s list also gave the maximum
$2,000 to Bush’s re-election campaign, according to the Center for
Responsive Politics, a Washington-based nonpartisan research group:
August A. Busch IV, president of St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos.
Inc., the world’s largest brewer; Kirk Kerkorian, chief executive
officer of Las Vegas-based Tracinda Corp., an investment company; and
Jeffrey Smulyan, president of Indianapolis-based Emmis Communications

Of the 204 people on the Kerry endorsement list, 67 are now chief
executives. It includes some corporate leaders whose support for
Kerry and for Democrats was already well known, such as Lee Iacocca,
former chairman of Chrysler Corp. He endorsed Kerry in June.

Concern Over Deficit

Other executives include Tom Freston, 58, co-president and co-chief
operating officer at Viacom Inc., the third-largest U.S. media
company, and Bill Hambrecht, 68, founder, chairman and CEO of W.R.
Hambrecht, a San Francisco-based investment bank. Hambrecht in
December gave $2,000 to the presidential campaign of Kerry’s rival,
Howard Dean.

Eli Broad, 71, chairman of AIG SunAmerica Inc., is also endorsing
Kerry. Broad, 70th on this year’s Forbes magazine list of
billionaires with estimated assets of $5.8 billion, in June
criticized Bush for “running these huge deficits in recent years.”

Sarah Bianchi, Kerry’s policy director, said the executives were
drawn to the campaign because they are concerned about the federal
budget deficit, rising health-care costs and, as frequent travelers,
the U.S. reputation around the world.

Assembling Endorsements

Three Kerry supporters in the business community helped assemble the
endorsements for the Democrat, his campaign said. They are Steven
Rattner, managing principal of Quadrangle Group; Roger Altman,
co-founder of Evercore Partners, an investment and advisory firm; and
Blair Effron, vice chairman of UBS Investment Bank’s investment
banking department.

“This level of business support is unusual for a Democratic nominee
and validates the extent to which Kerry is seen as a centrist and a
reliable leader,” Altman, 58, a former U.S. deputy Treasury
secretary, said in an interview. Kerry is proposing to reinstate
federal budget controls that Bush abandoned, leading to a record
deficit of $445 billion for this fiscal year, Altman said.

Effron, in an interview, said two-thirds of those on the list had
never before taken a visible role in a political campaign and said he
hoped their support will encourage other business leaders to back the

Key States

The meeting comes on the sixth day of Kerry’s post- convention bus
tour across the U.S., with a focus on states likely to decide the
Nov. 2 election. Bush was also visiting Davenport today, holding a
rally blocks from where Kerry held his economic meeting.

Former Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee in
2000, defeated Bush in Iowa by about 4,000 votes four years ago.

Bush says last year’s tax cuts helped the economy add 1.3 million
jobs in the past six months. Kerry says the added jobs pay, on
average, $9,000 less a year than those that have been lost.