The billionaire American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is said to be leaning toward supporting Senator Marco Rubio as the Republican nominee for president.
The two met last week at Adelson’s Venetian Las Vegas casino, where Adelson, “seated at the head of his conference table, heaped praise on Rubio’s performance while he discussed the dynamics of the 2016 race,” the Washington political magazine Politico reported.
Rubio’s campaign manager Terry Sullivan and two top advisers to Adelson, Rob Goldstein and Patrick Dumont, were said to have been present at the meeting.
“Those briefed on the meeting described it as short but said it had an air of importance,” the magazine related.
Adelson famously spent some $100 million on the 2012 Republican primary and presidential campaigns, under US campaign finance rules that allow unlimited funding of groups that endorse candidates but do not coordinate with their campaigns.
He is one of a small number of megadonors who could shape a crowded Republican primary field in which the Florida senator is gaining ground. Rubio faces an uphill battle against the far wealthier Jeb Bush campaign, with its longstanding Bush family connections and a second-quarter fundraising draw of some $100 million, more than twice that of Rubio’s campaign.
According to sources cited in the report, Adelson could announce his primary endorsement of Rubio by the end of the month.
The two now speak several times a month, they said, discussing Rubio’s campaign but also delving into foreign policy issues, especially the US-Israel relationship. Adelson is a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a longtime supporter of both philanthropic and political causes in Israel.
Rubio is also reported to be aggressively courting another Republican Jewish megadonor with close ties to Israel — hedge fund manager Paul Singer. The two met last week in New York, though an aide to Singer said afterward that Singer “hasn’t made a decision on the presidential election yet.”