Will Sheldon Adelson endorse Marco Rubio?

Sheldon Adelson, one of the top donors to Republican candidates in the country, is leaning toward endorsing Senator Marco Rubio for president, sources close to the casino magnate claim.  The endorsement could come as early as the end of this month.


Last week, during a campaign swing through Las Vegas, Rubio held a meeting in Adelson's offices at the Venetian Las Vegas, one of a number of five-star luxury casinos the billionaire mogul owns around the world. Adelson, seated at the head of his conference table, heaped praise on Rubio’s performance while he discussed the dynamics of the 2016 race. Those briefed on the meeting described it as short but said it had an air of importance, with the two joined by Rubio’s campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, and a pair of senior Adelson advisers, Rob Goldstein and Patrick Dumont.

Those close to Adelson — who spent more than $100 million on Republican candidates and causes during the 2012 campaign and has been aggressively courted by most would-be Republican nominees — stressed that the 82-year-old gambling magnate had made no final decision on whom he’d support but said that momentum had strongly shifted to the Florida senator. A formal endorsement, they said, could come as soon as the end of the month — and with it, the potential for a multimillion dollar contribution. With a net worth of $25.7 billion, according to Forbes, Adelson can afford to spend freely.

The news of Adelson's growing affinity for Rubio comes as the Florida senator has seen his poll numbers climb in recent weeks — support his campaign is hoping to translate into cash. “I think it’s obvious that Marco is gaining some strength,” said Anthony Gioia, a retired ambassador and top Rubio fundraiser. “The more people hear him, the more strength he seems to be getting.”

Rubio and Adelson have grown increasingly close, with the senator phoning the billionaire several times a month to provide in-depth updates on the state of his campaign. The two men also have detailed policy discussions, especially about international affairs and Israel — the latter a cause near and dear to the mogul. Adelson has long looked favorably on Rubio, a fellow son of immigrants. Two people familiar with his thinking said he has become increasingly confident in the senator’s political skills and believes he is the kind of fresh face the Republican Party needs in 2016. (An Adelson spokesman declined to comment.)

Adelson may be fabulously wealthy, but so far in his donor history, that has not translated into backing winning candidates.  He declared for Newt Gingrich in 2012, a few weeks before the former congressman dropped out of the race, before eventually endorsing Mitt Romney.

That said, Rubio could use the boost in money and stature an Adelson endorsement would bring.  Adelson is also one of those donors who can shake the money tree and attract other GOP whales to his side.  The windfall is desperately needed by Rubio, who raised a paltry $2.5 million in the last quarter.

Apparently, Adelson doesn't think Jeb Bush or Chris Christie can win the nomination.  That spells curtains for both ot those candidates, whose sources of establishment money is already drying up.  Both will probably remain in the race through New Hampshire to keep faith with their supporters, but unless some fantasic and unexpected meltdown occurs at the top, both candidates will drop out, precipitating a scramble for their remaining donors and staff.