There's always a business risk for corporate leaders who come out in support of a presidential candidate, said Andy Puzder, CEO of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's parent CKE Restaurants.
But in this election, he said he feels strongly about voicing his support of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton — based on what he sees as the billionaire's ability to help spur the economy and a business friendly environment.
Puzder, a senior policy advisor to the Trump campaign, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Monday that chief executives have a right to express their own political views.
"If didn't feel that way, I couldn't go to the movies because there's hardly a movie star out there whose political positions I support," he said. "It's America. You're allowed to support the candidates to you and believe what you want."
Avoiding a question about whether Trump's lewd talk on the leaked 2005 "Access Hollywood" video swayed his views, Puzder said: "I'm not here to be a Donald Trump apologist." He said he came on CNBC to talk about Trump's economic ideas, not tabloid fodder.
He did acknowledge that both candidates "are not perfect."
In a Sunday op-ed on CNBC, Puzder — along with fellow Trump advisor former Nucor CEO Dan DiMicco — wrote they're among more than 100 business leaders, entrepreneurs and executives issuing an open letter of strong support for the GOP presidential nominee.
While critical of Clinton, Puzder and DiMicco said Trump's economic plan would "incentivize both small and large business growth by lowering the corporate tax rate" as well as encouraging businesses to invest in America and to bring their foreign earnings to the U.S.