North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has said he would vote for Donald Trump again for president, but he draws the line at ever conducting business with the man he's running against for the Republican nomination.
Burgum, a former business owner who turned a small software company into a $1.1 billion deal with Microsoft, was asked whether he would do business with Trump by host Chuck Todd in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
"I don't think so," Burgum responded. Asked why, he said, "I just think that it’s important that you’re judged by the company you keep."
One person Burgum said he'd be comfortable doing business with is Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of Twitter and Tesla.
Asked what the difference was between Musk and Trump, Burgum said: "Just look at business track records is what I would say, and that’s what I would take a peek at before I would make a decision about who you partner with."
But Burgum, who declared his candidacy last month, said Trump would still have his vote if next year's election is a rematch of 2020's.
At a campaign event in New Hampshire on Friday, Burgum said that if had to choose between voting for Trump and voting for President Joe Biden, he'd vote for Trump in an instant.
"I voted for him twice, and if he’s running against Biden I will absolutely vote for him again," Burgum said, calling it a "no-brainer."
Burgum, however, has expressed less certainty when it comes to the question of pardoning Trump, who has two criminal cases pending against him.
“You’re asking me a hypothetical question about something from two years from now, when we don’t even know if this is going to go forward or if there’s even going to be a conviction," Burgum told Hugh Hewitt in an interview last month.
Burgum has focused his campaign more on policy issues than on the culture war topics favored by other candidates, like Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. He said on "Meet the Press" that that would remain his focus if he's elected president.
"There’s a broad spectrum of Americans that are really frustrated with the discourse that’s happening at the edge. And part of the reason they’re frustrated is because there aren’t candidates, there aren’t choices on the ballot, to talk about the things that matter to them," he said.
"We know that the issues that matter most, to the most number of Americans at the end, when people end up voting, they vote about pocketbook issues. And you can’t say to voters, 'Hey, look, you should feel better about the inflation we have this year because it’s half of last year,'” he said.
Burgum said that he wouldn’t sign any legislation about abortion rights, arguing "it should be left to the states," and that he felt the same way about other culture war issues.
"Guess who loves the most when we’re talking about, you know, culture war issues in the U.S. and fanning the flames on social media when maybe 40% of those social media accounts are bots? We get attacked every day in North Dakota by China, Russia, North Korea, Iran. They’ve all got people that come to work every day to do cyberattacks at the U.S.," he said.