GENE SIMMONS Says He Was Initially 'Happy' When TRUMP Became President, Admits He's An 'Ageist' About BIDEN
November 28, 2022
During an appearance on the latest episode of Bill Maher's "Club Random" podcast, KISS bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons spoke about former U.S. president Donald Trump, on whose "The Celebrity Apprentice" show he was once a contestant.
"For the record, when [Trump] first ran in 2016 and got elected, I was happy," Gene said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET). "I knew the guy from before then, seeing him in clubs and stuff like that. And for the record, he had Bill and Hillary [Clinton] at his wedding and Howard Stern went to his wedding. He's not a politician. But my point, I wanna say for the record, and people will tell you who know me, 'Oh, yeah, Gene was happy that Trump won.' I was. I didn't want Hillary [to be president]. I thought, 'Oh, a businessman is coming in. He understands how to run things.'"
When Maher pointed out that Trump doesn't understand how government works and doesn't care to learn, Gene said: "I agree. The person that I saw first coming into power is not the person I saw within a year or two of that… But I changed, the way lots of people changed."
Gene went on to question current U.S. president Joe Biden's fitness for the job at age 80.
"I thought Biden was gonna come in and be a major force," Simmons said. "I've got some big reservations about the man — not about his ethics and morality, but just about his physical ability to do all that."
After Bill expressed his surprise at Gene's "ageism," which refers to stereotypes, prejudice and/or discriminatory actions or practices against older persons that are based on their chronological age or on a perception that the person is "old," Simmons fired back with: "I am an ageist. I am an ageist, depending on the vibrancy and the mental alertness of what you've got. There's a certain age you can't look at a person and not say, 'Okay, you're X number of years old. Now, how sharp are you?' You're talking about the most powerful person on the planet… I'm not talking about policy. Communication skills are flat. There is such a thing as the cult of personality. And I like the man, but the ability to communicate a message is nil."
When Maher countered that Simmons is implying that words are more important than the deeds, Gene said: "Initially, yes. Because the first impression you have of a female walking up to you before you talk with her is the impression. And then you find out where and who and what she [is like]. As a male, you understand that. And the first impression I have of somebody coming on screen is the Nixon-Kennedy debate. [People] weren't listening to what the debate was all about. Nobody understands political platforms. All they saw was the five o'clock shadow of Nixon and the little beads of sweat. That's all they remember. And Kennedy was a good-looking guy who was able to put a sentence together. Do people remember what the political differences were? Not in the least."
Elsewhere during the chat, Gene went on to say that he is one of the more than sixty percent of the U.S. electorate which doesn't necessarily identify with a major party.
"Generally speaking, I'm a centrist," he said. "I don't like AOC [New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez] and I'm not a fan of [Vermont senator] Bernie [Sanders], but I think they're both fine people. I do like [Utah senator] Mitt Romney and [Wyoming congressperson] Miss [Liz] Cheney, I do like that, and both sides hate you for saying those things, because they both want you to align yourself with what the marching orders are. 'If you're a Democrat, it means this. You're a progressive.' I'm not a progressive. I know that business has to involve people who don't agree with you."
This is not the first time Simmons has been critical of Trump. This past May, he told SPIN: "I know the previous [U.S.] president," he said. "I knew him before he entered politics. Look what that gentleman did to this country and the polarization — got all the cockroaches to rise to the top. Once upon a time, you were embarrassed to be publicly racist and out there with conspiracy theories. Now it's all out in the open because he allowed it."
Simmons went on to say that he and Trump "knew each other" before "The Celebrity Apprentice", "in clubs and all that. You have a different responsibility when you're just a citizen or an entrepreneur," he added. "You don't make policy. It doesn't affect life and death. When you get into a position of power, it does affect lives.
"I don't think he's a Republican or a Democrat," Gene said of Trump. "He's out for himself, any way you can get there. And in the last election, over 70 million people bought it hook, line and sinker.
"The current president [Joe Biden], I like the ethics and morality — not a charismatic guy, unfortunately. The first word I keep hearing from people, even friends is 'feeble.' I don't think he should run next time. So then who's around? There are no stars and invariably people vote for stars, not even what they believe in. The cult of personality. Americans are star obsessed: 'Kylie's got a new lip gloss? Fuck!'"
Simmons previously touched upon his feelings about the Trump presidency in August 2021 while speaking to Yahoo!'s Lyndsey Parker about the negative response he gets from some of his fans every time he shares his pro-vaccine stance on Twitter.
"It's been politicized," he said. "The gentleman who was in office, the former president [Donald Trump], I knew before the political world. It's the same person I knew before; the stripes of a tiger don't change. And the unfortunate thing is that… Look, we all lie to some extent, but what happened the last four years was beyond anything I ever thought imaginable from people who had lots of power — not just him, but the administration, everybody. And unfortunately, that disease — The Big Lie notwithstanding — has really infected a large portion of the population."
Asked to elaborate on his comment that Trump is "the same person" he knew when he was a contestant on Trump's "The Celebrity Apprentice" series, Gene said: "We were in a restaurant together, and I happened to be with an attractive young lady. And he walked up and said, 'Hey, Gene, you and I, we're exactly the same. We like the hot chicks.' That was a strange thing to say, but yeah, I guess that's true. But I think it's the same person. And maybe that was the appeal and continues to be. People are sick and tired of politically correct language and stuff.
"In a political dialogue, if somebody spews complete fiction and QAnon stuff, you wanna be able to have somebody who says, 'Are you out of your fucking mind? Did you just shit your diapers and forget to wipe it?'" Simmons added. "We're looking for that politician who just says instead of watching your language. Because the other side will spew garbage and lies and everything."
Back in 2019, Simmons said that Trump had "forever changed" politics. He added that "earth has never been in better shape" than it was in the summer of 2019. "I know — climate change and a polarized political thing — but there are no more world wars," he stated at the time. "I mean, imagine what London looked like 60 years ago. This is the best of times. Unemployment in the United States is the lowest it's been in 50 years — 5-0. When I rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange at their behest, the Dow [Jones Industrial Average] was about 8,000. It's almost 27,000 today. More people are working. More people are making more money. Unions are more powerful."
In the past, Gene had defended Trump's occasional off-color remarks and frequently outrageous statements, saying: "I don't know anybody here who hasn't said stupid things publicly or privately. You've said potty words and so have I. So I'm gonna give the guy who was duly elected a chance to show us what he can do, and then I'll judge his legacy."
Simmons said that he "didn't necessarily vote for Trump or [Hillary] Clinton" in the 2016 presidential election, adding that "it's really nobody's damn business" whom he voted for. "I think you'd be surprised by my choice — but he's President Trump, because even if you don't like the man, you must respect the office of the presidency and the will of the Electoral College," he said.
In 2017, Simmons confirmed that KISS was invited to perform at Trump's inauguration but turned it down because it was "not a good idea."
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