It must be tough for some in the Greek Chorus of Buckeye reporters on the primary campaign trail to report that the Republican candidate one New York hedge fund billionaire described as “the best explainer of conservatism in public life today, and one of the best communicators the modern Republican Party has seen” wasn’t Ohio’s term-limited governor but the first-term U.S. Senator from Florida.
While Ohio’s governor was in California raising campaign cash at an event at which bodybuilder-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger stroked John Kasich without actually endorsing him for president, the senator from Florida was endorsed by billionaire Paul Singer, who is known for his generous contributions to GOP candidates and causes and even promising farm team candidates.
Mr. Singer, according to the New York Times, described first-term Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as someone who can “appeal to both the head and the heart.”
Sen. Rubio, one of the top ten Republicans running for president, fared well in last week’s CNBC debate in Boulder, Colorado. Sen. Rubio and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz were consensus winners while other candidates, including Gov. Kasich, were consensus losers. The Greek Chorus noted Kasich’s aggressiveness in taking on his fellow Republicans and predicted it would get him noticed in the debate post-mortems. His intention for the debate last Wednesday was revealed the previous day in Columbus, when he mocked plans from Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson as “crazy” and “just fantasy land.”
But according to Adweek, for all Gov. Kasich’s aggressiveness, he got lost in the shuffle again. And, if anything, came out a loser, placing third place among those who thought he did himself more harm than good. If the former Lehman Brothers banker, and alleged seller of pot to Reagan campaign field workers in 1976, had a mission to act and sound mature, maybe even presidential as his campaign wants, his relapse into familiar behavioral territory—namely being the dismissive, father-knows-best CEO governor persona he legend for—revealed the over-sized personality baggage he’s packing.
Singer’s breakout move to Rubio sends big signals to other donors who look to his lead. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Paul Singer gave more money to Republican candidates and causes last year than any donor in the country and, as the Times put it, he “is courted by Republicans both for the depth of his own pockets and for his wide network of other conservative givers.”
The Times reported that of the roughly 1,200 people who raised money or hosted fund-raising events for Mitt Romney in 2012, approximately two-thirds are still sitting on the sidelines, based on the the most recent disclosures available from the Federal Election Commission through September.
In addition to Sen. Rubio rising status, there is Sen. Ted Cruz. His aides say they see an opportunity to form a coalition of tea party supporters, evangelicals and libertarians, according to reports. Cruz is a favorite of Tea Party types and is having some success drawing libertarians unimpressed by Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Still waiting to be claimed are Evangelicals, who are being fought over by Cruz and Carson along with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
If those three voting groups can be united, aides to Sen. Cruz say it would put him in a strong position to go head to head with the candidate that emerges as the choice of the party’s more moderate, business-focused wing. Candidates in that category include Rubio and Jeb Bush, with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as stragglers.
Sen. Cruz knew and used Gov. Kasich’s attack plan against him last week. “This is not a cage match,” he said, according to CNN. “You look at the questions: Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain? Ben Carson, can you do the math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?”