Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has yet to publicly state who he plans to support for the presidency in 2016, but his affection for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has pundits banking that Adelson will reach early and often into his deep pockets for the Sunshine State's junior senator.
reports that Rubio has made a strong play for Adelson's support — with an estimated net worth of $32 billion, he's the 12th-richest person in the world, according to Forbes
— and Adelson likes what he's seen.
"(Adelson) has told friends that he views Rubio, whose hawkish pro-defense views and unwavering support for Israel align with his own, as a fresh face who is 'the future of the Republican Party,' " Politico reports.
"He has also said that Rubio's Cuban heritage and youth would give the party a strong opportunity to expand its brand and win the White House."
Rubio and his supporters are well-aware that, in order to have a shot at the nomination, he must be able to stave off former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an establishment favorite with deep ties to Florida's wealthy donor base. For Rubio, that means having a mega-donor like Adelson in his corner.
Last month, the men dined privately at Washington's Charlie Palmer steakhouse, where, according to Politico, "they talked for hours about their families and personal lives."
Like fellow octogenarian and billionaire Florida auto dealer Norman Braman
, Adelson reportedly connects with Rubio's life story, particularly that he is the son of immigrant parents who forged his own path to success.
Rubio's Cuban parents worked as a bartender and a hotel maid. Adelson's father was a cab driver who emigrated from Lithuania, and Braman's mother was a seamstress from Romania and his father a barber from Poland.
It's still early in the game for an Adelson endorsement, but political website Mother Jones
writes that Rubio is "off to a good start," noting that the Twittersphere has taken notice that Rubio has been a fixture on the cover of Israel Hayom, the daily Israeli newspaper owned by Adelson.
Wrote Tel Aviv-based journalist Gregg Carlstrom on his Twitter page:
Rubio donor sources told Fox News
that the campaign has a $50 million fundraising goal before the Iowa caucuses, which are scheduled for Feb. 1.
In 2012, Adelson contributed some $100 million of his own money to super PACs for Newt Gingrich, Adelson's favored candidate to whom he gave $15 million, and for Mitt Romney, who became the Republican nominee.
An Adelson endorsement, if he makes one, isn't expected until after the second Republican primary debate, according to Politico, which reports that that debate is expected be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California in September.
"This election, though, Adelson's advisers say he's determined to get behind a more mainstream candidate who has a better chance of becoming the party's nominee," according to Politico, which quoted an unnamed person close to the billionaire as saying Adelson "doesn't want the crazies to drive the party's prospects into the ground."
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