An increasing number of major donors to the Republican party are ditching former President Donald Trump after he officially announced his bid for the White House in 2024, opting instead to support rising GOP stars like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
One such megadonor is billionaire cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder, whose spokesman claimed he “has no plans to support Trump.” Lauder contributed $100,000 to the Republican National Committee when it was backing Trump’s reelection effort in 2019, according to OpenSecrets.
He also donated $2,700 directly to Trump in November 2017, the maximum allowed at the time under federal law. While Lauder’s spokesman didn’t indicate who he intends to back in 2024, OpenSecrets did indicate that the billionaire gave $200,000 to DeSantis’ first gubernatorial campaign in 2018 and gave another $10,000 to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC in July of 2021.
Lauder isn’t the first New York based billionaire to reject the 45th president’s bid for a shot at becoming #47. Metal mogul Andy Sabin and private-equity Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman have both spoken out against Trump.
“I wouldn’t give him a f—ing nickel,” Sabin said Wednesday, just a day after Trump’s announcement. “What I’m telling you is what most people I know think but are afraid to say … I don’t really give a s—. Trump does nothing to help my life. My businesses couldn’t be better without Trump.”
Sabin, who contributed $120,000 to Trump’s unsuccessful 2020 reelection campaign, blamed the former president for “single-handedly” ruining the GOP’s prospects in last week’s midterm elections in which Democrats kept control of the Senate and Republicans were on track to record a meager majority in the House.
“He’s not a good person. He could be helpful but it’s all about him,” Sabin said of Trump. “It’s time for the party to move on, to the [Glenn] Youngkins and [Sen.] Tim Scott, let them transform the party into what it should be.”
Florida records show Sabin contributed $55,000 this year to the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC and plans to back the Sunshine State governor if he gets in the 2024 presidential race. However, should Trump’s announcement clear the GOP field or should the former president win the 2024 nomination, Sabin would vote for him again.
“I would vote for him over a Democrat,” he told the New Post. “I would vote for a turtle over a Democrat.”
Meanwhile, Schwarzman, who contributed $3 million to the America First Action super PAC in 2020, a pro-Trump organization, and gave over $35 million to Republican candidates in the midterms, told Axios on Wednesday that he too had no intention of backing the former president.
“It is time for the Republican Party to turn to a new generation of leaders and I intend to support one of them in the presidential primaries,” he said. “America does better when its leaders are rooted in today and tomorrow, not today and yesterday.”
Sabin’s and Schwarzman’s statements come not long after Citadel hedge fund CEO and founder Ken Griffin, who gave more than $60 million to GOP midterm candidates, told Politico just before Election Day that he was tired of Trump.
“He did a lot of things really well and missed the mark on some important areas,” Griffin said earlier this month. “And for a litany of reasons, I think it’s time to move on to the next generation.”
Griffin, who is a Florida native, and is overseeing the building of a new Citadel office in Miami, pushed for DeSantis’ 2024 run, saying that he “has a tremendous record as governor of Florida, and our country would be well-served by him as president.” Griffin gave $5 million to DeSantis’ reelection campaign this year.
Trump is the only contender to officially launch a 2024 presidential campaign. While President Biden has repeatedly claimed that he intends to run for reelection, he will hold off on making a final decision until next year.
Meanwhile, one prominent New York Republican told the New York Post last week that “DeSantis is running.”
“He’s talking to donors in New York. He has good friends here. He’s been up to the Hamptons [for fundraisers],” said the top GOPer and added that some Republicans are discussing Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin as another potential option, who they argue is more charismatic than DeSantis. Trump, meanwhile, has lashed out at both governors, seemingly aware of the rumors, in a bid to prevent them from running.
“Now that the Election in Florida is over, and everything went quite well, shouldn’t it be said that in 2020, I got 1.1 Million more votes in Florida than Ron D got this year, 5.7 Million to 4.6 Million? Just asking?” Trump wrote on Nov. 10.
Trump also released a lengthy thread bashing DeSantis, just hours later.
A day later, he claimed Youngkin’s last name “Sounds Chinese” and claimed the Virginian “couldn’t have won without me” last year.
“Young Kin (now that’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?) in Virginia couldn’t have won without me,” the former president said. “I Endorsed him, did a very big Trump Rally for him telephonically, got MAGA to Vote for him – or he couldn’t have come close to winning.”
Days prior to Trump’s campaign kickoff, an insider told the Post that the former president was “talking about raising over $1.5 billion with donors big and small.” However, now that Lauder’s, Griffin’s, Sabin’s and Schwarzman’s money seems to be off the table for the former president, it’s unclear just how simple it’ll be for him to make that goal.
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