Democratic congressional candidate Ro Khanna applauded Silicon Valley entrepreneur and gay activist Peter Thiel for the courage he displayed during his Thursday night speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC).
His opponent, Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), criticized Thiel earlier in the day for speaking at the RNC, and pointed out that Khanna’s “biggest ally” was a Republican — fighting words in ultra-liberal Silicon Valley.
Khanna responded by defending Thiel, and demanding Honda apologize for attacking him.
“Peter Thiel stood up for LGBT rights and for taking America one step closer to letting LGBT people have those rights. I applaud him,” Khanna told Breitbart News. “I’ve heard passionate liberal Democrats taking about Peter Thiel’s speech, including Rachel Maddow,” Khanna said. “Honda owes him an apology. His desperate attacks are hurting him among Democrats and people see it as petty and insensitive. And that he’s attacking Peter when he’s making a personal testimony is exactly the divisive, polarizing rhetoric that we need to overcome,” Khanna told Breitbart News.
He added, “It’s about his hypocrisy and his attacking a gay man who was showing courage by sharing his personal story.”
Thiel declared “I am proud to be gay. I am proud to be a Republican. But most of all I am proud to be an American,” to roaring crowd at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday night.
Honda took to Facebook to criticize both Thiel and Khanna this week:
An email sent from Honda’s Communications Director Vedant Patel on Thursday also states: “voters deserve to know the difference between Ro, a right-wing tool and faux-progressive dependent on special interests and Republican zealots, and Mike Honda, a lifelong true progressive champion who has never stopped fighting for the people of this district.”
However, an investigative piece by the San Jose Insider indicates that “Records filed with the Federal Elections Commission for the last five years show that Honda received at least $115,000 from millionaires and billionaires and who also support GOP and Tea Party candidates.”
Khanna said Honda “is taking $115,000 from Republicans. And at same time launching personal attacks out of desperation. He is poster child of what’s wrong with Congress.”
He also posted a response to Honda on his own Facebook account:
“Peter Thiel gave us $5,400 during the last cycle and $2,700 for this cycle,” Khanna said. “And he’s given money to Gavin Newsom and Sean Eldridge [a Democrat married to Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes]. So to go after him and after someone he supports is horrible.”
“My constituents know that I’m independent-minded and that I want to represent everyone in the district and that I’m going to work to find common ground,” Khanna said. “Honda’s attacks on Peter Thiel represent everything that’s wrong with our politics currently.”
Asked if receiving support from Thiel would not bode well with his constituents, Khanna said:
No. If anything, it’s most Democrats who think that Honda’s arguments are intellectually bankrupt. I’ve head a number of Democrats who care deeply about LGBT rights and are appalled that Honda has been attacking Peter Thiel. It takes a lot of courage to stand up in front of thousands of people and talk about his own identity. But the most important thing he said is that we are all Americans. And in that single moment, Peter Thiel helped us talk about a common American identity. That is regardless of our race, ethnicity or religion and as a Democrat or Republican, you can get behind that message in regard to respecting LGBT rights.
That being said, Khanna also pointed out areas where he disagrees with Thiel. “I disagree with him on some of his foreign policy views,” Khanna told Breitbart News citing “obvious intellectual places” where both men diverge. “People know exactly where I stand. They know I’m a strong Democrat, that I’m for strengthening social security and raising the minimum wage; these are areas on which I disagree with Peter Thiel.”
He added that he also found issue with “comments about women’s participation in democracy” that Thiel has made in the past. Khanna was citing a 2009 blog post Thiel had published with the libertarian Cato Institute.
In conclusion, Khanna noted that “Peter Thiel is seen as part of the heart of the Valley and the creation of the Valley,” adding that respect for people must transcend political ideology. “I just thought it was so ironic when Honda was there posting on Facebook and smearing people like Peter Thiel, given that Peter Thiel helped create Facebook. It just shows how out of touch Honda is with Silicon Valley.”
Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz