Billionaire donor backs Rubio for US president

WASHINGTON • One of the wealthiest and most influential Republican donors is throwing his support behind the presidential campaign of Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, in a major blow to the struggling campaign of former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

Billionaire New York investor Paul Singer sent a letter to dozens of other donors on Friday declaring his support for Senator Rubio.

In the letter, Mr Singer described Mr Rubio - who was elected to the Senate in the Tea Party wave, but has been embraced by the party's Washington elite - as the only candidate who can "navigate this complex primary process, and still be in a position to defeat" Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton in a general election.

Mr Alex Conant, a spokesman for Mr Rubio, welcomed the endorsement: "We know we have a lot of work to do before Marco wins the nomination, but clearly this moves us in the right direction."

Mr Singer, who gave more money to Republican candidates and causes last year than any donor in the country, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics, is courted by Republicans both for the depth of his pockets and for his wide network of givers.

Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee on Friday dumped NBC News from sponsoring a Feb 26 debate of presidential candidates in the fallout over a debate conducted by media partner CNBC this week that was roundly criticised by the candidates.

The move comes as several campaigns seek to change the format for the remaining debates due to concerns too many candidates are on stage at the same time and do not get enough time to speak.

NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 01, 2015, with the headline 'Billionaire donor backs Rubio for US president'. Print Edition | Subscribe