While the debate at Hofstra University is produced by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates, at least one of three major funders of the event, Peter S. Kalikow, isn’t shy about his support for Republican Donald Trump.
“I’ve been friends with him for over 40 years,” Kalikow said in an interview. “Wouldn’t that be cool if he became president?”
Kalikow, 73, president of H.J. Kalikow & Co., a midtown Manhattan real estate firm, has worked and competed with Trump in real estate for decades. He initially backed Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s presidential run, but switched gears when it looked like Trump would be the party’s nominee.
Kalikow — former owner and publisher of the New York Post and a former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority — sponsors Hofstra’s seminars on American presidents.
He was one of several donors to the 2008 presidential debate at his alma mater and is among those footing the bill for the faceoff between Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton at Hofstra on Sept. 26.
Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz, who joined Kalikow in the interview with Newsday, stressed that the school and organizers of political seminars and programming never consider the personal politics of donors or trustees.
Kalikow recalled that as former MTA chairman he worked closely with Clinton when she was a senator from New York.
“She was great. Very helpful to us,” Kalikow said. “It’s hard, I actually like both people involved in this election.”