Florida Governor and presumptive presidential nominee Ron DeSantis was spotted dining in Jerusalem this week with Israeli-American billionaire Miriam Adelson.
She was among several major Republican donors at the dinner hosted Wednesday by Larry Mizel, an American businessman who helped found the Museum of Tolerance where the meal was being held. Mizel was the finance chairman for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign office in Colorado during the 2016 race.
DeSantis sat in between Mizel and Adelson, according to Axios, which broke the story.
Miriam and her late husband, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, backed DeSantis during his successful 2018 gubernatorial run, donating $500,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC.
DeSantis is likely seeking Adelson’s support once again, as he is expected to announce his candidacy for president in the coming weeks, though he faces an uphill battle.
Adelson is a longtime admirer of former US president Donald Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who has already thrown her hat in the 2024 race.
Scoop: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dined with Miriam Adelson — former President Trump's top financial backer in 2020 — and other major GOP donors in Jerusalem on Wednesday. Read the story by @SophiaCai99 and me report on @axios: https://t.co/sYJzu3Ji1k pic.twitter.com/c8cznvmova
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) April 28, 2023
Haley headlined an event Adelson put on in 2019 as the publisher of the Israel Hayom daily. She interviewed Haley on stage and introduced her as Israel’s “Wonder Woman on the world stage” and the “potential first female president of the United States.”
Tax documents uncovered by POLITICO last year revealed that Adelson was among several major GOP donors who had been donating to a nonprofit that Haley established to lay the groundwork for a 2024 presidential bid.
Both Adelsons donated $250,000 each to Haley’s nonprofit, Stand For America, Inc.
Miriam Adelson, who has become one of the most sought-after GOP donors since her husband’s death, also donated $5,000 to Haley’s PAC in 2021.
The Adelsons were also Trump’s biggest donors in the 2020 election, writing checks for more than $90 million on the Republican incumbent’s behalf. Trump launched his re-election bid last November.
But less than two months after the August 2022 POLITICO story, the news site reported that Adelson has told potential Republican candidates for the 2024 presidential election that she plans to stay neutral during the GOP primary battle.
Adelson hasn’t publicly confirmed this stance though.
She is from Israel, but she also holds American citizenship and lives part-time in Las Vegas.
Adelson inherited most of her late husband’s fortune and became the wealthiest new billionaire in the world in 2021, placing 24th on the Forbes list. She lost around $360 million in the past year.
DeSantis spent two days in Israel this week, meeting with President Isaac Herzog and speaking at a gala event organized by The Jerusalem Post and the Museum of Tolerance in the capital.
At a Thursday press conference in Jerusalem, DeSantis stressed the importance of the US-Israel relationship and accused the Biden administration of harming those ties.
DeSantis has long been one of the most vocally pro-Israel members of the Republican Party, focusing his criticism of Middle East leaders on the Palestinians. He claimed in his recent book that he helped lay the groundwork for Trump’s decision to move the embassy and argued that the West Bank is “disputed” rather than “occupied” territory.
Before the press conference, DeSantis announced that the Florida-based Avenger Flight Group would be building flight simulators for El Al in Israel. He also announced a new collaboration between Florida Atlantic University and Israel’s Insightec on neurological diseases, and a new partnership between Florida, the Israel Innovation Authority, and the US-Israel Chamber of Commerce focusing on health care.
Lazar Berman and Jacob Magid contributed to this report.