Bill Cummings is an apolitical billionaire.
The 79-year-old founder of Woburn-based Cummings Properties typically registers Independent, doesn’t get involved in political campaigns, rarely makes contributions to candidates, and his only experience with elected office was a stint as planning board chairman in his hometown of Winchester in the 1970s.
But lately Cummings has been venturing outside his political comfort zone to rail against a man he considers a threat to the country: Donald Trump.
In his commencement address last month at Endicott College in Beverly, Cummings denounced the “hateful anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic, anti-gay” discourse that he says is fueled by Trump, likening it to “the same plague that spread through Nazi Germany in the 1930s.”
At an event last week hosted by his charitable Cummings Foundation, he condemned “prejudice and intolerance” and urged attendees to “stand up to those who would use Adolf Hitler as their coach.”
He delivered a similar message when he spoke recently at an annual meeting of Catholic Charities, and says he’ll do the same during a talk at the Lappin Foundation in Salem this summer.
In his public speeches, Cummings hasn’t been mentioning Trump by name. But he doesn’t equivocate when asked if he’s referring to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee: “Yes.”
Cumming says he’s speaking out because he fears the consequences of Trump having the power that comes with the office of president of the United States.
“A long time ago, in my childhood, I remember Mein Kampf, and what Trump is doing is what that book did: motivate the disaffected,” he said. “Trump seems to be trying to harvest all those disaffected people and make them part of his adoring crowd. But I think that makes many people overlook so much that is so good about America.
“I do think our political system in Washington is broken,” Cummings added, “but I can’t see letting somebody like Trump emerge as the answer.”
Cummings acknowledged that he could face some backlash for expressing his political views so publicly, “but if that happens, it happens,” he said. “I just felt I needed to say something.”
Come November, he added, he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton, albeit not enthusiastically.
“There are many other people I’d rather vote for,” Cummings said, “but I’m just afraid of Trump getting in.”