WASHINGTON (AP) — Billionaire casino executive Sheldon Adelson is already at work on behalf of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
"I'm asking for your support" for Trump, Adelson wrote in an email Monday to more than 50 Republican Jewish leaders. Adelson told them he had met with Trump recently and is "specifically convinced he will be a tremendous president when it comes to the safety and security of Israel."
Trump has work to do in winning over the Republican Jewish Coalition, which includes many top party fundraisers — and Adelson's note may help smooth the way. He's a major funder of the group and an influential part of its board of directors.
Most RJC members backed other Republican candidates over Trump in the primary contest, and some have been put off by Trump's divisive comments and ideas, such as temporarily banning all Muslims from entering the country.
"Like many of you, I do not agree with him on every issue," Adelson wrote in the email, obtained by The Associated Press. "However, I will not sit idly by and let Hillary Clinton become the next president. The consequences to our country, and Israel, are far too great to take that risk."
Adelson was the top donor of the 2012 presidential race, with his family putting almost $90 million into it, and he has signaled he is willing to be a financial driver again.
Earlier in the race, Trump dismissed GOP rival Marco Rubio as striving to be "a perfect little puppet" of Adelson, who in addition to supporting Israel wants to ban internet gambling. Trump, at the time, brushed off Adelson and other donors, saying he doesn't need them because he is a billionaire himself.
More recently, as Trump begins to assemble a fundraising team and seek big donations, he has been more complimentary.
"An incredible honor to receive the endorsement of a person I have such tremendous respect for. Thank you, Sheldon!" Trump wrote on Twitter last week after Adelson wrote an endorsement editorial in the Washington Post.
Adelson attached that editorial in his email to the RJC board of directors.
The board includes both passionate Trump backers and those who say they will never warm to him. Paul Singer, a New York hedge fund billionaire, recently said he does not believe that either Trump or Clinton is a good pick for the White House.
Ari Fleischer, another board member and former press secretary to President George W. Bush, said that the RJC is in about the same spot as the broader Republican Party.
"The reality of the choice is sinking in, and most people are more and more comfortable with supporting Donald Trump," he said. "Throughout the party, including the RJC, people are coming around, although there are always going to be some objectors."
The encouragement of Adelson and other endorsers, Fleischer said, may help "concentrate even more minds."
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