Rubio Shaping Up as Adelson's Presidential Favorite

The casino mogul will only decide on his favored candidate later this year, but sources say he likes the Florida senator's unwavering support of Israel.

Senator Marco Rubio.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the son of Cuban immigrants, expresses his disappointment in President Barack Obama's initiative to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba. AP

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is winning the race among presidential wannabes for the support of Jewish casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Politico website reports.

Adelson was the largest single donor to candidates from the Republican Party in the 2012 elections. His financial support allowed former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to stay in the presidential race long after other donors had given up on him.

According to Politico, Adelson has told associates in recent weeks that he views Rubio as a fresh face who is “the future of the Republican Party.” Both men are hawkish on defense and unwavering supporters of Israel.

Adelson has yet to declare his support for a 2016 candidate and is unlikely to do so until after the second Republican primary debate, which is expected to be held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, in September.

“It’s a wide-open field and he’s going to keep his powder dry until he needs to weigh in," said his spokesman Andy Abboud. "He’s excited about the field of candidates.”

This weekend he will preside over the Republican Jewish Coalition’s spring meeting at his Venetian hotel in Las Vegas. The meeting is an opportunity for presidential aspirants to meet with well-heeled Jewish Republican donors.

Sources familiar with Adelson's political views stress that he could ultimately get behind a candidate other than Rubio. Nevertheless, he has provided hints about his preference. Earlier this month, two Florida-based Adelson lobbyists, Scott Ross and Nick Iarossi, headlined a Rubio breakfast fundraiser in Tallahassee.

The backing of the 81-year-old Adelson would give Rubio's quest for the 2016 Republican nomination a serious boost. To outlast such well-funded establishment favorites as former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, he’ll need the support of deep-pocketed contributors like Adelson, whose $32 billion net worth makes him the nation’s 12th-richest person, according to Forbes.

The Florida senator’s outspoken support for Israel is a big draw for Adelson, who owns the largest newspaper in Israel, the Yisrael Hayom freebie, and regards Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a close personal friend.