As he moves closer to winning the Republican presidential nomination, frontrunner Donald Trump continues to tout private equity honcho Henry Kravis as his possible treasury secretary, the FOX Business Network has learned.
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Kravis, meanwhile, continues to say he isn’t interested.
That was the buzz in Washington D.C. Saturday night at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner and the well attended after parties where political insiders mingle for a night of laughter and to discuss gossip.
Several political insiders in attendance told FOX Business that they recently had conversations in which Trump suggested that Kravis has indicated he might be receptive to the offer.
But in a statement to FOX Business, Kravis said that is not his intention. “While I’m honored to be mentioned, I love my job and can’t imagine leaving it,” he stated.
Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks did not return telephone calls and emails for comment.
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This isn’t the first time Trump has mentioned Kravis as a potential treasury secretary. Last year, Trump mentioned him among several candidates for the position--one in which corporate executives consider among the most important cabinet positions given its role in developing economic policy.
Other names that have been discussed by Trump for the job include former General Electric (GE) CEO Jack Welch and billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn.
At the time, Kravis described the idea of serving as Trump's treasury secretary as "scary," while Welch is supporting Cruz and Icahn has said he is not interested, though he has endorsed Trump's candidacy.
Trump, meanwhile, could all but wrap up the GOP nomination this Tuesday if he wins the Indiana Primary. Polls have him ahead of Cruz in the contest but last week Cruz received a key endorsement from Indiana Governor Mike Pence; Cruz also announced that if he wins the nomination, his V.P. running mate would be former Hewlett Packard (HP) CEO Carly Fiorina.
Last night at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, GOP insiders say Trump once again has been floating Kravis' name to build inroads with Republican Party insiders.
Like Trump, Kravis is a billionaire, with a long and public career in business, running private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) which he co-founded.
While Trump is new to the Republican Party (he has supported Democrats in the past), Kravis is a long time Republican fundraiser with deep ties to the Wall Street donor establishment.
He may be best known for his role in the takeover of RJR Nabisco in 1988, a corporate battle described in the best selling book “Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco.”
Trump has so far self-financed his campaign to win the GOP nomination, but he may need outside contributors to raise the billions of dollars that many experts say is necessary to wage a successful presidential campaign against likely Democratic nominee in the 2016 contest this fall, Hillary Clinton.
Clinton is expected to easily raise an estimated $1 billion. While Trump says he’s worth $10 billion, it is unclear if he has enough cash readily available for the race or whether he will tap outside sources for the funds.
That's why it's important for him to make inroads with the likes of Kravis and other well-heeled donors he has been speaking with in recent weeks, GOP insiders tell FOX Business.
In addition to Treasury Secretary, Trump has also been weighing potential candidates for his vice president.
And it has been equally difficult for him to come up with solid choices. Many Republican heavy weights such as South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez have already said they are not interested in the No.2 spot showing that Trump’s insurgent campaign, where he’s made controversial remarks on immigration, may cost him some establishment GOP support, if and when he wins the nomination.
The business community has been particularly wary of outwardly endorsing Trump as well, given some of his controversial remarks. Trump has also said he wants to raise taxes on hedge fund executives and private equity officials- something that might not endear him to the likes of Kravis.
Clinton once had close ties to the business community and Wall Street, but she has moved to the left on issues such as regulations and taxes amid a strong challenge for the nomination by socialist candidate Bernie Sanders.
With that, many Republican donors at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner say they are reluctantly moving to support Trump.
“I will do whatever it takes to defeat Hillary Clinton, including giving money to Donald Trump,” said one GOP moneyman at last night's dinner.