Buffett endorses Clinton, likens Republican debate to Vaudeville

Buffett: I'll Be Delighted When Clinton Takes Oval Office

Billionaire Warren Buffett pitched his support behind Hillary Clinton during a campaign stop on Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska, saying that he and the Democratic presidential candidate share a commitment to helping the less affluent.

Introducing Clinton at the rally, Buffett recited statistics about how incomes for the wealthiest people in the U.S. have gone up seven-fold during the last two decades, as their tax rates have fallen. While Buffett said he doesn't condemn the rich, he said the odds were stacked in their favor.

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"That's a primary reason -- there's a lot of other reasons, but it's a primary reason -- why I'm going to be so delighted when Secretary Clinton takes the oath of office," Buffett said. "She will never forget the people who haven't shared the same way" in the nation's prosperity.

See photos of Buffett at the Clinton rally in Omaha:

Warren Buffett Hillary Clinton rally
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Buffett endorses Clinton, likens Republican debate to Vaudeville
OMAHA, NE-DECEMBER 16: Billionaire Businessman Warren Buffett introduces Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton at a Town Hall rally at Sokol Auditorium December 16, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images
OMAHA, NE-DECEMBER 16: Billionaire Businessman Warren Buffett listens to Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton at a Town Hall rally at Sokol Auditorium December 16, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. Clinton has the majority support among Democrats over Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images
Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, greets attendees following an event with Warren Buffett, chairman and chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., not pictured, at Sokol Auditorium in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Buffet said at the rally that he was supporting Clinton's bid for president because they share a commitment to help the less affluent. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
OMAHA, NE-DECEMBER 16: Democratic Presidential Candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton greets supporters as she arrives at a Town Hall rally at Sokol Auditorium December 16, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska. Clinton was introduced by Billionaire Businessman Warren Buffett. (Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images

The event Wednesday was a rare appearance for Buffett at a political rally. It followed a fundraiser earlier Wednesday at Omaha's Happy Hollow country club, where the candidate and billionaire appeared in conversation in front of about 190 people who donated at least $500 to her campaign to attend, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the event was private.

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The gatherings were the culmination of a long evolution for Buffett. The son of a Republican U.S. congressman, he started shifting his allegiance to Democrats decades ago. In 2008, he backed both Clinton and President Barack Obama in the primaries. And he has since gotten more involved, increasing his donations to candidates and speaking out publicly.

Mocking Republicans

On Wednesday, he also took a few jabs at the Republican Party, likening their debates to a comedy routine.

"I've listened to all the Republican debates," he said. "I mean I used to love Abbott and Costello, people like that. This is really, I'm reliving my youth, I mean, vaudeville was never this good."

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He also singled out Republican front-runner Donald Trump for bragging "every five minutes" about how smart he is.

"Incidentally, I went to Wharton, too," Buffett said, referring to the University of Pennsylvania's business school, which Trump attended. "And I left after two years to go to the University of Nebraska."

Buffett became one of the richest people in the world by building Berkshire Hathaway Inc. into a sprawling conglomerate. In addition to holding major stakes in companies like Coca-Cola Co. and Wells Fargo & Co., his company owns insurers, electric utilities, retailers, manufacturers and a railroad.

After Buffett's remarks, Clinton emphasized that she and the billionaire agree that the wealthy need to pay more in taxes. Four years ago, Buffett lent his name to President Obama's proposal that would implement an effective tax rate of at least 30 percent on households earning $1 million or more annually.

Clinton's View

"I'm gonna fight hard to implement the Buffett Rule," Clinton said Wednesday, in reference to that measure. "I want to go even further, because Warren is right, as usual," she added. Clinton, a former secretary of state and U.S. senator, has also pledged not to raise taxes on families making less than $250,000 a year.

The Democratic front-runner last week began rolling out her proposals on corporate taxes, pledging to work to stop inversions and earnings stripping, both practices involving shifting profits overseas. But, with Buffett sitting on stage behind her, she made no mention of those ideas. Buffett was involved with one of those maneuvers last year when he helped finance Burger King's merger with Canada's Tim Hortons.

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Warren Buffett through the years
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Buffett endorses Clinton, likens Republican debate to Vaudeville
Investor Warren Buffett answers reporters' questions during a press conference to announce that Walt Disney will buy Capital Cities/ABC July 31.
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett of Omaha makes a rare public appearance during an autograph session outside Borsheim's Jewelry Store in Omaha, May 4. Buffett was signing autographs for shareholders in his company, Berkshire Hathaway, which is having its annual meeting May 5.
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Billionaire financier Warren Buffett looks on after a meeting with U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, at the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington June 29, 2005. Specter is the co-author of a bill seeking to create a $140 billion asbestos compensation fund. REUTERS/Shaun Heasley SH/TC
Billionaire Warren Buffett arrives at the Sun Valley Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho July 10, 2007. The world's biggest media chiefs gather this week at the 25th annual Allen & Co. conference at the resort starting today. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES)
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks at a Senate Finance Committee hearing about "Federal Estate Tax: Uncertainty in Planning Under the Current Law" on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 14, 2007. Billionaire Buffett warned of widening U.S. income disparity and endorsed the estate tax as a check on wealth accumulation, while two senior lawmakers said they want the tax repealed. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES)
Billionaire financier and Berkshire Hathaway Chief Executive Warren Buffett greets shareholders during the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders meeting in Omaha, Nebraska May 3, 2008. REUTERS/Carlos Barria (UNITED STATES)
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett laughs as he appears with Microsoft Corporation founder Bill Gates for a town hall style meeting with business students broadcast by financial television network CNBC at Columbia University in New York, November 12, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES BUSINESS)
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Billionaire Warren Buffett, wearing a traditional tikka or a red mark on the forehead, speaks during a news conference in Bangalore March 22, 2011. Buffett on Tuesday said he is looking to invest in large countries like India, China and Brazil, but added that restrictions on foreign ownership in India's insurance industry could be a deterrent. Buffett also said and the U.S. economy was improving and that the devastating earthquake in Japan would not hurt global growth. REUTERS/Stringer (INDIA - Tags: BUSINESS)
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Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem, at the start of a 5km race sponsored by Brooks Sports Inc., a Berkshire-owned company, in Omaha May 5, 2013, a day after the company's annual meeting. Buffett at the meeting on May 4, 2013 gave the most extensive comments to date about the future of Berkshire Hathaway Inc after he is gone, saying he still expects the conglomerate to be a partner of choice for distressed companies. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SPORT ATHLETICS)
Warren Buffett, Chairman of the Board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, poses for a portrait in New York October 22, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS)
Roberta Buffett Elliott sits with her brother Warren Buffett as they attend an announcement ceremony at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, January 28, 2015. The sister of financial investor Warren Buffett has given Northwestern University more than $100 million to create the Roberta Buffett Institute for Global Studies, the largest single gift in the school's 164-year history, the university said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS EDUCATION SOCIETY)
Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks at the Fortune's Most Powerful Women's Summit in Washington October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo
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