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This interview was initially published in December. Palmer was the surprise victor in the American Samoa Democratic primary.

Tech investor Jason Palmer wasn’t planning to launch a bid for the White House until he decided he had no choice.

“I kept waiting for someone with a business background to join the race. When they didn’t, I decided to run based on my strong business background,” said Palmer, a former deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation who declared virtually on Zoom
in November. He is running as a Democrat.

“The American public does not want a race between two octogenarians, but someone with a business background, a problem solver,” Palmer said.

Palmer’s three-pillar campaign platform of conscious capitalism, reinventing the education-workforce system and modernizing government is designed to “bring back the middle class,” he said in a wide-ranging phone interview. Conscious capitalism is a business strategy that seeks to benefit human beings and the environment.

Palmer envisions several cabinet-level changes, including merging the departments of Education and Labor into a Department of Talent and creating a Department of Innovation and Technology that would oversee artificial intelligence, among other technologies. “[Former Google CEO] Eric Schmidt or [Netflix co-founder] Reed Hastings would be perfect to head it,” he mused. (He has not formally approached either one about such a post.)

“We want the government funding science 10 years ahead of adoption. We don’t want the government to dictate what you can do with AI, but to have liability schemes in place,” Palmer said. Companies would face fines of up to $10 million if AI causes grave harm, he added.

Palmer says he believes in freedom of choice, speech and religion and the right to create and grow companies. To that end, he strongly supports conscious capitalism and stakeholder capitalism. He added that companies with less than $1 million a year in sales should not pay taxes.

Palmer favors reinventing antitrust policy but would stop short of breaking up companies or imposing huge fines. “We want to invent a much more agile antitrust resolution and not resort to long, costly lawsuits,” he said, alluding to actions by the Justice Department against Alphabet Inc.’s

Google and to the Federal Trade Commission’s suit against Inc.

Palmer has served as a lead investor and board member at more than a dozen businesses, several of which have been acquired by publicly traded companies such as Pearson
(Credly) and Instructure Holdings Inc.

“Americans wanted a businessman in the White House: This is why [Donald] Trump was elected, but it didn’t happen,” Palmer said.

Palmer joins a long list of businesspeople who have vied for the presidency in recent years, including Ross Perot; Mitt Romney, who co-founded Bain Capital; Carly Fiorina, former CEO of HP Inc.
; Doug Burgum, ex-CEO of Microsoft Corp.’s
Great Plains Software; publishing czar Michael Bloomberg; Tom Steyer; Vivek Ramaswamy; Andrew Yang; and Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza.

Because he joined the race late, Palmer is scrambling to get on state ballots. So far, he’s on two — Nevada and New Hampshire — and is in talks for four more — Colorado, Arkansas, Vermont and one other state, which he did not name. His goal is to be on 30 ballots by Jan. 31. Palmer, who is campaigning in New Hampshire, intends to soon hire a field director for the Iowa caucuses next year.

He is cagey about any big-name supporters but said that 90% of his campaign funding comes from donors at small businesses and in the education-technology arena and the conscious capitalism movement, and people in their 30s and 40s. “I am not independently wealthy,” he said.

Palmer ruled out a running as an independent, as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornell West are doing.

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