Rubio snags endorsement from prominent GOP donor

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Billionaire Paul Singer’s support of Rubio shakes up funding in presidential race.

One of the wealthiest and most influential Republican donors in the country is throwing his support to Sen. By every measure, the Florida senator’s bid for the Republican nomination has grown more robust in October, boosted again by a strong showing in Wednesday night’s debate.It didn’t happen on the debate stage or at the ballot box, but Marco Rubio won a major victory Friday night by securing the support of a major Republican donor. The endorsement comes two days after Rubio was widely praised in the third Republican presidential debate, a night that pitted him against his former Florida ally Jeb Bush. The endorsement, which was confirmed by an aide to the Rubio campaign, caps a strong week for the senator, in which he was widely seen as the standout candidate in Wednesday’s GOP debate in Boulder, Colo.

The decision by the donor, Paul Singer, a billionaire New York investor, is a key victory for Rubio in his battle with Jeb Bush for the affections of major Republican patrons and the party’s business wing. It comes as a major blow to Bush, who is seeing his once vigorous campaign imperiled by doubts among supporters, and whose early dominance of the race was driven by his financial muscle. I thought he was the best,” said Karen Gase, 53, a middle-school teacher from Sioux City who watched the debate. “I think he appeals to a broad base of different kinds of groups that would make him electable. Singer is also a major bundler for other donors, and sent some of them a letter Friday, arguing Rubio is the candidate in the best position to defeat likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Rubio welcomed the news on Friday evening, saying he was “grateful” to have the help of someone like Singer who is “successful at raising money”. “I’m grateful that when people donate to us they buy into our agenda, and I’m glad that he has and it will help us with resources,” Rubio told reporters after a campaign event in Orange City, Iowa. “But you know, resources alone are not enough.

Actually, I think Hillary is scared of him more than anybody because she knows his appeal.” The Iowans had been promised a happy-hour drink with the candidate, but as they drank, Marco Rubio launched confidently into his sales pitch, leaving his glass of water untouched on the stool behind him. Rubio made the case that the country and the Republican Party are in dire need of new leadership and new ideas to “turn the page from a stagnant political culture.” “As a party, we cannot keep electing the same people with the same ideas, because I promise you nothing will change,” Rubio said. “They’re not bad people. At a “young professionals” happy hour at a downtown sports bar, the 44-year-old Rubio told a rowdy group that he woke up that morning “still kind of wired” from the debate.

After relatively low-key performances in the first two GOP showdowns, Rubio acquitted himself well when challenged by the moderators on his personal spending and by Jeb Bush regarding his missed Senate votes. In a letter Singer sent dozens of other donors Friday, Singer described Rubio as the only candidate who can “navigate this complex primary process, and still be in a position to defeat” Hillary Rodham Clinton in a general election. They love America, but the 21st century has left their ideas behind.” It was a veiled reference to two members of political dynasties whose presence looms large in this race: Clinton, the former first lady; and Rubio’s onetime mentor and friend, former Florida governor Jeb Bush. He praised Rubio’s message of optimism about America’s future, his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his ability to make a persuasive case to voters as key reasons to support him. “He is accustomed to thinking about American foreign policy as a responsible policymaker,” Singer wrote. “He is ready to be an informed and assertive decision-maker.” Singer, who gave more money to Republican candidates and causes last year than any other donor, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, is courted by Republicans for the depth of his pockets and for his wide network of other conservative givers. Dubbing Rubio as “the best explainer of conservatism in public life today”, Singer said the senator “can appeal to both the head and the heart”.

Donor enthusiasm has given campaign leaders who have prided themselves on a slim and sleek operation — partly out of necessity because of low cash flow — the confidence to increase hiring. He is known for his caution and careful vetting of candidates and, while passionately pro-Israel and a supporter of same-sex marriage, he is generally viewed as a donor who does not believe in litmus tests. Sergeant Bluff, Iowa. “He got his words in.” That debate moment may have been Rubio’s opening to encourage voters to take a first or second look at his candidacy, which has focused heavily on the struggles of his immigrant family. “He genuinely connects with people, because people genuinely think he is in the real world,” Bertrand said, highlighting Rubio’s student loans as proof that he’s “like the rest of us.”As Iowans continue to vet candidates, Bertrand said that Rubio has a chance to peak here at the right time. Rubio is steadily adding resources in each of the first four voting states, and the campaign just signed an office lease in South Carolina, the third state voting in the primaries early next year. Singer had until now remained neutral and his move into Rubio’s corner is not only an indication of the debate’s impact but also a sign of things to come.

But other contenders — from Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton’s allies to Florida newspapers — have seized on that line of attack, and it is likely to persist. Singer could pour millions into outside groups backing Rubio but, more importantly, he is a reputable bundler in Republican circles who could help sway anxious donors away from Bush. Although aides to Rubio have said they don’t expect defections to happen overnight, the debate provided a prime opportunity to court increasingly wary backers of Bush who are looking to bet on a winning horse. Rubio has sketched out the basics of proposals on China, education and taxes, among other issues; Saturday is the last day of his “31 Days of Policy.” But he’ll have to go deeper into detail as the race intensifies.

Rubio went on to deliver his usual stump speech, sharing his life story as the son of immigrant parents and doling out fierce criticism of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. During his remarks, Rubio also took a rather veiled shot at Bush by noting: “We need people with a sense of energy.” Bush has been labeled as “low energy” during the Republican primary by the real estate mogul and current frontrunner Donald Trump. Still, Rubio declined to take shots at his fellow Floridian when pressed repeatedly by reporters on the aggressive nature of the Bush campaign’s attacks on him.

A leaked memo on Thursday detailed the lengths of Team Jeb’s strategy against Rubio, including plans to go after his previous issues with finances and closeness to certain billionaire donors. Rubio reiterated, as he has in the past, that others are welcome to run their own campaigns – he plans to stick to his own message about the future of America. “I just don’t think it is a smart thing for Republicans to do Hillary Clinton’s job for her.” Bush’s campaign, in its presentation last week to donors at a Houston gathering, noted 12 staffers in New Hampshire and another 25 spread among the other three early states.

Campaign ads are to begin the week after Thanksgiving, with plans to spend about $17 million through the early primary contests, according to information provided by Kantar Media’s CMAG advertising tracker. No other presidential candidate has benefited from so much advertising by a secret-money nonprofit, a potential liability with voters who have said in polls that they are tired of big donors and secret money flowing into elections.

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