As announcement day for would-be presidential candidates looms, political donors of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio have some decisions to make.
The men, who are friends and long-time political allies, draw largely from the same group of financial backers, and according to The New York Times
, Bush's family name and political gravitas has given him a slight edge.
"I'm conjoined at the hip with Jeb Bush," retired Florida developer Al Hoffman Jr. told the Times. Hoffman served as ambassador to Portugal under Bush's brother, President George W. Bush, and has also been a top Rubio donor.
"Of course I love Marco, and if Jeb wasn't in consideration, I'd do anything I could to support Marco," he said.
Rubio is extremely popular with influential members of the GOP, according to the Times, but poaching donors from the Bush camp is proving to be a challenging feat.
"Marco Rubio is very attractive," fundraising guru Dirk Van Dongen —
who ran Rubio's Washington fundraising arm —
told the newspaper. "I'm very high on him, and if Jeb Bush were not in the race, I would certainly be there working for Marco."
But not all deep-pocketed donors are in the Bush camp.
Billionaire Florida car dealer Norman Braman is supporting Rubio, saying he's prepared to do whatever he can to get Rubio elected.
"I'm tired of the past, and I want to look to the future," Braman told the Times.
The contrast of past versus future and experience over youth will likely delineate the campaigns should Rubio and Bush square off in the primary.
"Rubio, 43, risks appearing inexperienced standing next to the 62-year-old former two-term governor," The Washington Post reported
earlier this month. "Meanwhile, Bush, brother and son to former presidents, could look like the stale, old guard of the GOP in contrast to the freshness of a new generation represented by Rubio."
Rubio, according to the newspaper, has already taken the opportunity to pepper their differences to the press. He told the Des Moines Register that he thinks it's "important for this country at this stage in our history to move towards the future. I'm grateful for the service people have given our government and our nation in the past, but I think the time has come for a new generation of leadership in this country."
In late December, Rubio said during an interview with NPR
that he does not believe overlapping donors will be a deal-breaker in a race.
"We certainly know a lot of the same people, we also know some different people," he said. "I don't believe if I decide to run for president, that that will be an impediment."
While he may have appeared to be taking a swipe at Bush to the Register, Rubio has deep respect for Bush, his former mentor, and has nothing but admiration for him, according to Fox News Latino
"It is not unusual in presidential campaigns for people who have worked together in the past to end up running at the same time," Rubio said. "If I join the field, if Gov. Bush joins the field and others join the field, you could have as many as eight to 10 very credible candidates running.
"And there's nothing personal. I wouldn't be running because I'm against anybody else in the field; I would be running because I believe I have something unique to contribute at this time."
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