Buffett Watch

Warren Buffett backs Donald Trump—with some reservations

Warren Buffett
Paul Morigi | Fortune | Time Inc | Getty Images

Multibillionaire investor and prominent Hillary Clinton booster Warren Buffett backed President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday, telling CNN in an interview that it was important that a deeply divided electorate "coalesce" around the newly elected leader of the free world.

Calling the 2016 general election "like no other I've ever seen" in more than 50 years as a voter, the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway acknowledged that both the Democratic and Republican nominees had a large number of "negative voters"—or people casting ballots for one candidate in opposition to the other.

That said, he called on the fractured public to come together behind Trump.

"It's important people coalesce behind the next president of the United States," Buffett told CNN, even as he raised doubts about his economic plans and business acumen.

"That doesn't mean they can't criticize him or disagree with what he's doing maybe, but we need a country unified [behind] the legitimacy of the president," Buffett said.

Even as anti-Trump protests roil cities across the country and participants reject Trump's legitimacy, Buffett added that the real estate mogul "deserves everybody's respect."

Trump rose to power on a wave of working-class resentment against free trade and the market economy—tenets Buffett backed in his interview with CNN.

This system will produce more and more stuff" regardless of who's in the White House, Buffett said, even as he acknowledged the economy as being "softer than people think."

Buffett added: "The market system works, but it doesn't work for everybody. it works in the aggregate."

Good at 'marketing', but what about governing?

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton waves to supporters as she is introduced by Warren Buffett during a campaign rally at the Omaha North High Magnet School in Omaha, Nebraska August 1, 2016.
Dave Kaup | Reuters

Trump's refusal to release his tax returns during the campaign earned him widespread criticism, and fomented the suspicion he might be hiding unfavorable information about his charitable giving or net worth. With Trump now ascending to the White House, Buffett told CNN that he didn't think the public would ever see that information.

"He was very good at licensing and promotion," Buffett said. "He understands business, but he's obviously better at licensing and marketing."

The Oracle of Omaha gave outgoing President Barack Obama top grades on his economic management, saying that Obama "put [the economy] back on the tracks and got it going again" after it was derailed by the 2008 financial crisis.

That said, he doubted Trump's stated goal of 4 percent annual growth per year, saying it was "not realistic."