Carlyle’s Rubenstein on Trump: ‘Most presidents get re-elected’

A strong domestic economy could springboard President Donald Trump to a second term in the White House, said private equity leader David Rubenstein, founder and co-executive chairman of The Carlyle Group (CG).

“I do think he can get reelected. Remember, most presidents get reelected,” Rubenstein told Yahoo Finance’s Andy Serwer and Alexis Christoforous in Davos, Switzerland, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Tuesday. “And when presidents don't get reelected it’s usually when they're in a recession – Gerald Ford, George Herbert Walker Bush, Jimmy Carter. The last president who got reelected in a recession was William McKinley.”

But so far this year, the U.S. economy has shown few signals that such a downturn would occur before the November general elections, noted Rubenstein, who served as a policy adviser to President Jimmy Carter.

“The economy is pretty good so therefore I think he has got a pretty good chance of getting reelected,” Rubenstein said. “We're not in a big war anywhere, that's another factor that we can take into account, and generally the economy is as strong as we've seen it in a long time.”

“So yes, I recognize all the controversies, and I recognize the people that can't stand him. But in the end, it's going to be down to about six or seven states, and in those states, he's doing reasonably well.”

David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of the Carlyle Group attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 17, 2017. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich

‘I think his policies have worked’

Rubenstein’s comments came after a speech from Trump at the World Economic Forum earlier during Tuesday’s session. There, Trump had taken to the podium with remarks heralding the strength of the U.S. economy and touting the moves his administration had implemented as part of his “America First” policies, including trade protections and tax cuts.

“I told you we had launched the ‘Great American comeback.’ Today, I’m proud to declare the United States is in the midst of a great economic boom, the likes of which the world has never seen before,” Trump told the audience of business leaders, academics and government officials at Davos.

To Rubenstein, those grandiose remarks were not completely unwarranted.

“He wouldn't be the first politician to exaggerate how his policies have been better than maybe they have been, but I think his policies have worked or something's working because the economy's doing well,” Rubenstein said. “Unemployment is low, interest rates are low, consumer spending is up, business spending is in pretty good shape, stock markets are at record highs.”

“What more can you ask of somebody is what I would say,” he added. “So there's a lot of consternation about him personally and some of his policies, but in the economy, it's hard to criticize him on the economy.”

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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