Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, has a fundraising trump card in billionaire Sunshine State auto dealer Norman Braman, according to Politico
The 82-year-old Braman’s support for Rubio stems in part from the admiration he holds for the self-made, ambitious senator, and in part from his discontent with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
Bush drew Braman’s ire in 2004 when he vetoed $2 million in state funding for the Braman Breast Cancer Institute at the University of Miami, started by Braman with his own money after his sister-in-law was diagnosed with the disease.
"I have nothing against Jeb Bush personally," Braman, a former owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, told Politico. "I was disappointed with the veto, which I was never given an explanation for. Who the hell is against breast cancer research, especially with what he allowed to become law?"
The veto, according to the website, was part of a broader Bush effort that year to slash the state budget, something Bush reportedly did to the tune of $350 million in cuts. The breast cancer institute’s veto was part of those cuts.
But it’s not just the grudge against Bush — the establishment poster child who is expected to raise more money than anyone else in the GOP — that’s motivating Braman to support Rubio.
The men have been confidantes since Rubio’s early years in the Florida Legislature, according to The Miami Herald
, and Braman employs Rubio’s wife through his charity foundation.
"He was a young man, but he had ideas," Braman told the newspaper. "He was never conventional."
Braman has said he identified with Rubio’s story. Both men are the sons of immigrants. Rubio’s parents were from Cuba, while Braman’s mother was a seamstress from Romania and his father a barber from Poland.
Both men also share a strong affinity for Israel. Braman is Jewish; Rubio a Catholic. They have traveled to the Holy Land together.
Rubio need not be concerned with being outspent by Bush or any other GOP candidate, Braman told the Jewish Daily Forward
"Marco Rubio will have the resources necessary to run a first-class campaign, that’s already been determined," Braman told the publication. The Washington Post
has reported that Braman is expected to pour up to $10 million into a Rubio super PAC.
The cash surge would help Rubio, who is young and a relative newcomer on the national political stage, stay in the race for the long haul, according to the Herald.
"He knows the odds, and I know the odds, but when he comes in contact with individuals, he’s impressive," Braman said. "I think he’s catching fire already."
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