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The question Warren Buffett would ask presidential candidates

Erin Fuchs
Deputy Managing Editor

In an interview with Yahoo Finance, legendary investor Warren Buffett revealed the question he’d ask to test the authenticity of presidential candidates.

“I want to hear what they tell people who disagree with them on the subject,” Buffett told Yahoo Finance’s editor-in-chief, Andy Serwer. “I would like to ask a candidate: What are you for that majority of your followers are against?”

The 88-year-old Berkshire Hathaway CEO then noted one candidate who was not afraid to answer that question — Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont known for his populism.

“Ninety percent of people who voted for Bernie Sanders had probably not heard of him two years earlier. But they felt that they knew exactly what he would do. They felt he was authentic,” Buffett noted. “And if you asked him you what he was for, that most people might be against, he would tell you.”

Buffett, who backed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and attacked Donald Trump, spoke at length about the general qualities he’s seeking in a president as part of his wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Finance. Buffett also answered a question about whether a business executive is the “right kind of person” to be president, given that former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is exploring a run as an independent and that the current president also has a business background.

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2010, file photo President Barack Obama congratulates Warren Buffett after presenting him with a 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom in an East Room ceremony at the White House in Washington. In his weekly radio and internet address Saturday April 14, 2012, Obama urged Americans to ask their member of Congress to support the "Buffett Rule," named after the billionaire investor who says he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Obama says the nation can't afford to keep giving tax cuts to the wealthiest, "who don't need them and didn't even ask for them." (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“Well, I think a business executive can be the right person, but I don't think that, because they're a business executive, that you give them extra points,” Buffett noted. “And number one, I want a president that wakes up every morning and realizes that the greatest threat to a country which has got all kinds of things going for it are weapons of mass destruction.”

Of course, the Oracle of Omaha also weighed in on how he wants the president to handle the economy. First, he said, he wants a president who will ensure “this marvelous boost we have keeps laying more golden eggs.” But Buffett — who has lamented the fact that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary — also wants a president who doesn’t leave the poor behind.

“I want a president that also feels that, if GDP is $60,000 per capita in the United States, that nobody should get left behind. We've got a market system that works marvelously in churning out more goods and services. Better ones, year after year. Done it all through my life,” Buffett noted. “...So we have to take care of the people that the market system doesn't take care of, while spewing out huge riches for the people who do fit well. And that can be done.”

Buffett — the son of a four-term Republican Congressman from Nebraska — told CNBC earlier this year that he’s voted for both Democrats and Republicans over the years. He also mentioned one businessman who he thinks would be a very good president: former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Tune into Yahoo Finance on Saturday, May 4, for its exclusive live stream of Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting.

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