It’s one of the more personal ads of the 2012 campaign. . But no presidential campaign or super PAC is behind it. Rather, a new TV ad and Web video that warns of the ills of socialism while urging America to vote Republican next month is financed by Hungarian-born billionaire Thomas Peterffy.
Peterffy recalls his childhood under socialism in Hungary, and says, “The nation became poorer and poorer. And that’s what I see happening here.” He warns that the United States, his adopted country, is embarking on a “slippery slope.”
He continues: “America’s wealth comes from the efforts of people striving for success. Take away their incentive with badmouthing success and you take away the wealth that helps us take care of the needy. Yes, in socialism the rich will be poorer — but the poor will also be poorer. People will lose interest in really working hard and creating jobs.”
The ad does not mention President Obama or Mitt Romney once. But in a campaign season where Obama is often accused by Republicans of attacking the wealthy, the target is apparent. Peterffy reportedly plans to spend millions to air the ad in the weeks before Election Day.
Peterffy — though not as prominent as perhaps the most famous Hungarian-born billionaire, George Soros — is the founder of Interactive Brokers and one of the richest people in this country. Forbes lists his net worth at $4.6 billion. He’s contributed freely over the years to mostly Republican candidates, including to Romney in his last two presidential campaigns. And he gave more than $60,000 to the Republican National Committee last year.
Born in Hungary in 1944, Peterffy left for the United States in 1965. In America, he learned English and eventually launched Interactive Brokers in 1993. He lives in Greenwich, Conn.