“Donald Trump’s branding is like how they branded cigarettes in the ’60s,” he told IndieWire on Friday. “You can put the Marlboro Man [out there] and make him look like there’s something positive [to smoking] – even though when you buy their product, you are going to die and there’s a good chance he is going to kill you.”
How is that like Trump? “He talks like he’s going to bring change, but what he’s doing is feeding you cigarettes – and you just don’t know you’re going to die yet… People keep on smoking without realizing that he’s giving us lung cancer.”
Cuban met with reporters Friday, along with the other stars of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” to promote the hit reality show (which returns tonight for an eighth season).
The entrepreneur made headlines recently when he offered to donate $10 million to Trump or a charity of Trump’s choice, if the candidate would sit down and lay out his policy plans over a four-hour conversation.
“Oh, he’s not going to take it,” Cuban said. “There’s no upside for him and I knew that. “It was $10 million to him or the charity of his choice just to explain the details behind his own policies, that should be the easiest thing in the world to do and he could’ve embarrassed me by being able to sit down and do it – but I knew he couldn’t.”
Cuban, who will attend Monday’s presidential debate at the invitation of Hillary Clinton’s team, said he doesn’t plan to actively campaign at the behest of her organization. But he does plan to continue to sound the alarm bells about Trump.
“I’ll keep on doing what I think is right,” he said. “I just think, I have three young kids and if Trump wins, I couldn’t face them and tell them, ‘Well, I should’ve tried and I didn’t.'”
Cuban called the current political climate “very scary,” and he gets that many voters feel disaffected. But, he added, “what we have to communicate is, well, I love change, but change can also bring something worse. And that’s what I think people aren’t cognizant of, that change in this case could be horribly disruptive in a negative way. That’s part of what I’ve been trying to convey to people who are thinking about voting for Trump.”
Trump managed to develop a new fan base and evolve his public image thanks to “The Apprentice.” Cuban, too, said that “Shark Tank” has changed the public’s perception of him.
“They just knew me from basketball and screaming on the sidelines, and I was the guy who got fined,” he said. “And now they get to see kind of how my mind works, my approach to people and it’s, without question, changed how people perceive me.”
Does that mean Cuban might want to try politics next?
“Never,” he said. “After all this bullshit, are you kidding me? I just couldn’t see putting my family through all that nonsense. I’m funding a group that is going to look to change ballot access laws, so that it is easier to get candidates on the ballot. Right now with the two and a half party system, we don’t get our best candidates and when it works the way it works now, we get a Donald Trump, and that needs to change.”