Chad’s Morning Brief: GOP Donors Worried About Donald Trump and Both Cruz and Rubio Look to Pick Up Bush Supporters
Less than 10 weeks to go before Iowa votes. The Chad Hasty Show airs 8:30-11am on 790AM KFYO.
Less than 10 weeks before Iowa votes and the Republican candidates aren't the only ones who are worried that Donald Trump may actually win the nomination. According to The Hill, Republican donors are worried and the could end up voting for... Hillary.
When asked who he would vote for if the presidential race comes down to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the former mayor of Los Angeles and a longtime Republican establishment figure, Dick Riordan, says: "I would probably go find a deserted island."
"I think Hillary is disgusting," said Riordan, a wealthy investor who has exceeded $500,000 in political donations throughout his career.
"And I think Trump is crazy," Riordan added in a telephone interview Monday.
Riordan is not alone. In conversations over the past month, GOP establishment donors have confided to The Hill that for the first time in recent memory, they find themselves contemplating not supporting a Republican nominee for president.
Most, however, still believe that Trump will flame out before they have to face that decision.
The subject of Trump came up at a recent Beverly Hills lunch hosted by former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Rockwell Schnabel.
Seated around the table in the private dining room of the Hotel Bel-Air were several of the West Coast's most powerful Republican donors, including Ronald Spogli, the venture capitalist and former ambassador to Italy under President George W. Bush; his business partner Bradford Freeman; and Riordan.
A story that circulated after the lunch was that the donors engaged in a hypothetical question: "If it was Donald Trump running against Hillary Clinton, who would you vote for?"
One version has it that most of the Republicans at the table put their hands up for Clinton.
Schnabel disputes that account and said in a telephone interview Tuesday that it was just banter among friends and that he is confident that all the Republicans at the table would support the final GOP nominee for president, whomever that turns out to be.
Schnabel called back later on Tuesday afternoon to clarify what he meant. "My only caveat would be that ... I assume that the Republican we'll nominate will be somebody that would make a great president," he said. "That's not a conversation we've had to have in the past, but obviously there are some we would be concerned about."
The four Republican donors sitting at that lunch table — Schnabel, Freeman, Spogli and Riordan — have between them contributed more than $2.7 million to candidates and political action committees over their careers.
All have donated to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's presidential campaign, and Freeman and Spogli have given $1 million and $50,000, respectively, to the pro-Bush super-PAC Right to Rise.
The feeling among the GOP's business wing is not entirely negative toward Trump. The billionaire has found a couple of champions — including billionaire investor Carl Icahn — but outreach from campaign surrogates has not always found a receptive audience.
Several months ago, Doug Manchester, a California developer and chairman of Manchester Financial Group, emailed a number of Republican donors plugging Trump for president.
"I met with Donald himself and was again very impressed with a Man [sic] who does not have to be doing what he is but believes as I do that we need to Make America great again and believe he can do it!!" Manchester wrote to his friends in an email seen by The Hill.
"As all of you know I was all in for Mitt but unfortunately he did not make it!!"
Donald Trump could win the nomination, but I still don't see it happening. I still think this race is between Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
Rubio and Cruz Want to Win Bush Supporters
Marco Rubio isn't the only GOP candidate attempting to steal away Jeb Bush's supporters. Ted Cruz is making his presence known according to POLITICO.
That’s certainly the case for Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, but for Jeb Bush, this event is an exercise in damage control. Many of the RJC board members scheduled to attend have already committed to a candidate, and some are now shopping for a plan B, especially those who threw their support behind Bush early on.
“Most of the people I speak to, none of them regard Jeb Bush as politically alive,” said a longtime RJC board member based in New York City, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “A lot of people on the RJC were very early committed to Jeb because of friendships and relationships. Now that Jeb has run out of steam, I don’t know where any of them stand.
“Most people I know now are talking up Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz,” he continued.
Donald Trump, whose rambunctious projection of strength has kept him atop the polls for months, is also set to attend the RJC event, although he does not have strong support from many of its members.
Ben Carson, another outsider who was positioned near the front of the pack until the recent events overseas unmasked his lack of knowledge about foreign policy, is also scheduled to attend.
Several of Bush’s most prominent Jewish supporters will host a breakfast meeting on the sidelines of the RJC forum on behalf of his Right to Rise super PAC, which will look to convince supporters it’s worth staying the course and waiting for the group to spend more of its $100 million war chest on TV ads (thus far, the group’s first $24 million in ads has done nothing to move Bush’s numbers).
Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a fundraising juggernaut with strong RJC ties who was brought into the fold earlier this year as a campaign co-chairman, will address attendees along with Right to Rise executive director Mike Murphy. Both are set to update attendees on Right to Rise’s efforts on Bush’s behalf and its view of the GOP primary, in which Bush continues to lag Trump, Carson, Rubio and Cruz.
Cruz playing well with some of the Bush supporters? That would surprise some people, but not me.