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Las Vegas GOP megadonor ditches DeSantis, throws support behind Trump

Updated November 9, 2023 - 8:41 pm

Las Vegas-based hotel magnate and GOP megadonor Robert Bigelow has switched his support from Ron DeSantis to former President Donald Trump in the 2024 presidential race — although Bigelow said he is waiting to provide financial backing until Trump’s legal problems clear up.

Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, was the largest single contributor to DeSantis’ presidential campaign in the first half of 2023, donating $20 million to fund the Florida governor’s White House aspirations. But now in the back half, Bigelow has determined DeSantis isn’t the commander that the United States needs, calling him not “strong enough.”

“At this point in time, we need the guy in the White House who scares the hell out of every other leader in the world who intends to do harm (t0) this country,” Bigelow told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Wednesday.

The hotel mogul, who had bankrolled Republican Joe Lombardo’s campaign for governor, said in August he had an interview with Reuters where he talked about things DeSantis should change, such as his conservative outreach efforts and his strict position on abortion.

DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban into law in Florida, though many women are just finding out they’re pregnant at the six-week mark, Bigelow said. Bigelow expressed those concerns in the article, but he never received a phone call from DeSantis, he told the Review-Journal.

Trump lost Bigelow’s support after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Bigelow told Time in April. Despite Trump’s “bombastic and egotistical” personality, Trump has proven himself as president, Bigelow said Wednesday.

“He was a really good commander … which is what this country needs,” Bigelow said.

When asked if Bigelow would extend his support financially, he said he wants to see Trump “get out of the kangaroo court problems that he’s involved in” first. He also wants to make sure Trump will not be sent to prison.

Bigelow also expressed support for former U.N. Ambassador and GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, although he thinks she would be an ideal vice president for Trump, and then he would like to see her run for president again in the future.

DeSantis’ campaign could not be reached for comment.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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