One of the wealthiest and most influential Republican donors in the country is throwing his support to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a decision that could swing millions of dollars in contributions behind Rubio at a critical point in the Republican nominating battle.
The decision by the donor, Paul Singer, a billionaire New York investor, is a signal victory for Rubio in his battle with rival 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. Bush and several other candidates, including Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, had competed fiercely for Singer’s blessing.
In a letter that Singer sent to dozens of other donors Friday, which was obtained by The New York Times, Singer described Rubio — who was elected to the Senate in the Tea Party wave but has been embraced by the party’s Washington elite – 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.
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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 both for the depth of his own pockets and for his wide network of other conservative givers. 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.
In his letter to his donor network, Singer described Rubio as “the best explainer of conservatism in public life today, and one of the best communicators the modern Republican Party has seen. Marco Rubio can appeal to both the head and the heart.”