Despite his lifelong Republican credentials, Mr. Shultz refused to publicly endorse Mr. Trump in 2016 or this year, but also did not support his Democratic opponents. Like Condoleezza Rice, another former Republican secretary of state who now heads the Hoover Institution, Mr Shultz declined to reveal who he would vote for in Tuesday’s election, but left little doubt about his low esteem for Mr. Trump.
When asked about his assessment of the outgoing president, the first thing Mr Shultz volunteered for was his respect and admiration for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who resigned in protest after Mr Trump decided to withdraw its troops from northern Syria and leave the American Kurdish allies on theirs.
“I say, if you can’t hold a guy like Jim Mattis…” Mr. Shultz said without finishing his thought. He then described a conversation with Mr. Mattis, who is also now at Hoover. “I said, ‘Why did you go, Jim?’ He said, “Well, the president makes a decision on Syria and doesn’t even ask my opinion. It’s a big loss. You have to keep people like that. “
In contrast, Mr Shultz offered no criticism of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic candidate, with whom he worked when he was Secretary of State and Mr Biden was a member of the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr Shultz recalled that at that time he could disagree with Democrats without sacrificing mutual respect and friendship.
“He’s that kind of guy,” he said of Mr. Biden. “You can have a big argument, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be friends.” He said he had recently teased Mr. Biden, who is 77, that “from my point of view you are a promising young man.”
Mr. Shultz agrees with Mr. Trump on certain issues. He endorsed the president’s decision to withdraw from President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which he found flawed, and praised the recent agreements establishing diplomatic recognition between Israel and several Arab neighbors, calling these movements of “brilliants”. He also endorsed Mr. Trump’s early travel restrictions to stem the flow of the coronavirus.
But Mr Shultz said it was important to take the virus seriously, noting that he and Charlotte, his wife, stayed inside their home on the Stanford campus except for a walk when the weather was nice. And he said he hoped Mr Trump would renew the new START nuclear weapons treaty with Russia and tackle climate change, a topic he has worked hard on in recent years as he promoted a tax. on carbon.