Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman is throwing his financial support behind a longshot primary challenge to President Biden less than a day after calling for the incumbent to drop out of the 2024 race.
The Pershing Square Capital Management founder announced in a lengthy X post Saturday that he is donating $1 million to a political action committee supporting Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who launched a largely symbolic primary bid against the 81-year-old incumbent in October.
“This is by far the largest investment I have ever made in someone running for office, and I am making this investment at a high-risk, but critically important moment for his campaign,” Ackman wrote in his nearly 2,200-word post.
The announcement comes the same day Ackman said Biden was too old to run for reelection during an appearance he made on CNBC’s “Squawkbox” to talk about his ongoing feud with Harvard University, his alma mater.
“Just on the age, past his prime issue, I think a good part of the reason why we have what’s going on in the world geopolitically is he’s perceived as a weak president. And he will be even weaker,” Ackman told CNBC.
In his X post, Ackman made the case for a Phillips presidency, going into great detail about the 54-year-old’s background and business acumen, calling him “a first-class human being and person of character.”
Ackman also brushed off polling that shows the three-term congressman’s upstart primary candidacy trailing Biden by 67%, insisting Phillips has “a credible path to winning the nomination despite what the oddsmakers may think.
“Biden is polling poorly against [former President Donald Trump], and his numbers are only going to get worse as he ages, and he is not looking good as it is,” Ackman wrote.
“There is also a reasonable chance that Biden is forced to withdraw for health reasons,” he surmised.
The billionaire touted Phillips’ rise in New Hampshire primary polls, saying he’s gone “from zero to 26%” in a matter of weeks. This vote of confidence comes despite an embarrassing outdoor campaign event Phillips held on Jan. 9 in Manchester, N.H. which nobody attended.
Ackman has stepped up his political advocacy in the days following the ouster of former Harvard President Claudine Gay, who resigned on Jan. 2 amid mounting criticism of her handling of rising incidents of antisemitism on the Ivy League campus and an onslaught of plagiarism accusations.
He had been a vocal proponent of efforts to remove Gay from her post, and continues to be a fierce critic of the university for not doing more to protect Jewish students in the wake of Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 terror attack against Israel.
In a separate CNBC interview on Friday, the 57-year-old, a self-described former “Bill Clinton Democrat,” said he no longer wanted to be associated with the Democratic Party, which he decried over its “racist” support of diversity, equality and inclusion efforts.
He also announced plans to form a think tank, complete with a CEO and a board of directors, to probe higher education’s adherence to DEI initiatives, which he argues stifle meritocracy.