According to Meet the Press host Chuck Todd, Wednesday night’s debate for the Republican presidential nomination “felt like a wake” for Jeb Bush. After his “French workweek” dig at Florida Senator Marco Rubio painfully backfired, with Rubio calmly dismissing his attack, the pundits officially declared that Bush’s campaign was on life support. If so, then the endorsement that Rubio received late Friday night may have pulled the plug on that life support.
The New York Times reported late Friday night that Rubio now has the support of billionaire hedge fund manager (are their any other types of billionaires these days?), Paul Singer. The founder of Elliot Management hedge fund, which, according to Forbes, boasts a net worth of $27 billion, Singer currently ranks #327 on the esteemed Forbes 400, up from last year’s ranking of 340, and as the nation’s 16th best hedge fund manager. As the Times reports, the impact of Singer’s endorsement is more than symbolic, for Singer’s announcement “could swing millions of dollars in contributions behind Mr. Rubio at a critical point in the Republican nominating battle.” This outcome seems very likely considering Singer publicly disclosed his support for Rubio via a letter he “sent to dozens of other donors.” This news is particularly damaging for Bush’s campaign, as the L.A. Times reported on Thursday that the “enormous fundraising success that Bush showed in the first half of the year has long since subsided, with new donors slow to join a campaign that has languished.”
If there is any consolation for Bush, it is that Singer only ranks as the country’s 350th wealthiest billionaire and only the 1006th wealthiest in the world. Donald Trump would probably say that such dismal rankings couldn’t get Singer a membership to one of his “terrific” country clubs before declaring Singer a “looo-ser.” However, we know how unlikely it is that Bush will go all Trump on a rival candidate. Also, Forbes reports that, along with being a high-rolling Republican donor, Singer is also a staunch supporter of LGBT rights. Bush could possibly exploit this detail to draw support from the GOP’s base away from Rubio, but appealing to the base’s prevailing anti-LGBT sentiment would smack of desperation, not to mention that this tactic would mainly resonate with voters who are already firmly in Mike Huckabee’s corner.
Having lost out on the endorsement of another billionaire donor, even one whose wealth lags behind that of 349 other Americans, Jeb Bush’s campaign may barely be on life support at this point.