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Tesla CEO: Political 'punching bag'

November 13, 2012: 4:14 PM ET

Tesla's Elon Musk reflects on his company's role in the presidential election.

FORTUNE -- During the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney raised Silicon Valley eyebrows by suggesting that electric car-maker Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) was a "loser," akin to failed solar company Solyndra.

The comment was roundly criticized, particularly given that Tesla has been well-received by the public markets and says that it is on track to repay its Department of Energy loan ahead of schedule. Today, Tesla co-founder and CEO Elon Musk stopped by CNBC on the occasion of its "Model S" winning Motor Trend's Car of the Year award. When asked about his company's cameo as a "political football" during the presidential campaign, Musk replied:

"A political punching bag, maybe. I wish I was a political football.... I'm just relieved the election's over. Oh, my God! I was tired of getting pummeled. Politically I'm somewhat i'm somewhat of an independent. I've supported both republicans and democrats. I'm not a hard-core one way or the other, and I mean, I think i'm moderate. Frankly, I think I'm probably right where most Americans are, actually...

The nature of the two-party system is that any given issue is going to fall into either the Republican or the Democrat camp. and that doesn't mean that one agrees with all things in one camp or the other. i think most Americans wouldn't say that they agree with everything, you know, in one camp or another. But that's just the way it goes. And i do think that in this case, that the Democrat side is right about environmental issues....

At some point, we'll run out of oil, okay? So we know that's going to happen. What we don't know is what the effect of putting all of that CO2 in the atmosphere is going to be. But since we're going to run out of it anyway, why don't we transition to a sustainable mode of transport and energy generation, soon rather than later, and not run that experiment?"

Here's the full interview:

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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