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'I care' — billionaire investor tears up talking about America, Elizabeth Warren and Donald Trump

Key Points
  • "I care," the hedge-fund manager answers, tearing up, when asked why he has been so vocal about the 2020 election.
  • Cooperman's response comes in the midst of a political battle between the longtime investor and presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren.
  • "I don't need Elizabeth Warren telling me that I'm a deadbeat and that billionaires are deadbeats. The vilification of billionaires makes no sense to me," he says.
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Leon Cooperman gets emotional talking about current political climate

Billionaire investor Leon Cooperman teared up on Monday as he discussed the political divide in the U.S. and his concerns about the American dream.

"I care," the hedge-fund manager answered on CNBC's "Halftime Report," tearing up after CNBC's Scott Wapner asked why he has been so vocal about the 2020 election.

Cooperman's response came in the midst of a political battle between the longtime investor and presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Cooperman has been a vocal critic of Warren's proposed wealth tax and her general distrust of America's richest individuals.

The two have sparred in recent weeks, with Warren contending that the billionaire should contribute more in taxes to help improve economic inequality in the U.S.

"I don't need Elizabeth Warren telling me that I'm a deadbeat and that billionaires are deadbeats. The vilification of billionaires makes no sense to me. The world is a substantially better place because of Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg, David Rubenstein, Bernie Marcus, Ken Langone," Cooperman said.

"This is idiocy! It's appealing to the lowest common denominator and basically trying to turn people's heads around by promising a lot of free stuff," he added.

Warren responded with a tweet, saying: "One thing I know he cares about—his fortune. He's a shareholder in Navient, a student loan company that has cheated borrowers and used abusive, misleading tactics. He even went so far as to ask how I might impact his investment in the last earnings call with Navient."

She added in a subsequent tweet: "I care about an entire generation of students being crushed by student loan debt—deferring their American dream because they can't afford it. I care about making sure every American has the opportunity to succeed. I'm not afraid to stand up to the wealthy and well-connected."

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The vilification of billionaires makes no sense to me, says Leon Cooperman

Cooperman sent a letter to Warren last week criticizing her characterization of billionaires, writing at the time that "your tweet demonstrated a fundamental misunderstanding of who I am, what I stand for, and why I believe so many of your economic policy initiatives are misguided."

But Cooperman didn't offer a glowing review for President Donald Trump, either. Cooperman explained that he believes Trump's behavior isn't presidential and works to polarize Americans.

"He has to become a president for the entire country and not just his base. So if I was him, if I'm not prepared to change my behavior, I would take a victory lap and not run again," Cooperman said of Trump.

"You know, Mitt Romney is not a jacka--: He's a distinguished American. Rex Tillerson is not dumb as a rock. He was a very bright guy that ran Exxon. John McCain was a true war hero," Cooperman continued. "[Trump's] deportment is not presidential and we need a unifier in that position because the country's being torn apart."

Cooperman committed to the Giving Pledge last year, vowing to give away his entire fortune to charity.