CLEVELAND – Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort said tech billionaire Peter Thiel’s speech has nothing to do with his “sexual preference” during a Sunday press briefing in Cleveland for the week’s Republican National Convention.
Thiel is the first openly gay RNC speaker since 2000.
“Peter Thiel is speaking because he knows Donald Trump, and he’ll be speaking about the Donald Trump, the man he knows,” Manafort told a conference room packed with reporters. “And as a successful entrepreneur, he can speak from a standard that we think is important for the American people to hear.”
“As far as his sexual preference, as chairman [Reince] Priebus has said, this is an open tent party, and people are going to be speaking at this convention based on what they want to say, not on any particular sexual preference and things like that,” he continued. “So I think that’s the basis for why he’s on the program.”
Manafort was also asked if the presumptive Republican nominee agreed with the Republican platform drafted last week, which included provisions that were widely critiqued as anti-LGBTQ, including being in opposition to same-sex marriage.
“Mr. Trump embraces the platform, praised many aspects of the platform, he’s praised many of the positions in the campaign and those positions are well known,” Manafort said.
Trump has largely refrained from staking out positions on LGBTQ issues, but claimed after the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando last month that he would keep gay and lesbian Americans safe. Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, came under fire last year for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Many deemed that law to be discriminatory to LGBTQ Americans, and Pence later signed an amendment to the legislation.