Billionaire Ken Griffin, CEO of Citadel and a leading Republican megadonor, has decided not to throw his weight behind any GOP presidential primary candidate. He previously backed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, but is now divesting himself from the race.
During an interview, Griffin, who donated over $100 million to Republicans in 2022 and told Poltiico in November of that year that he was ready to back DeSantis in the 2024 presidential contest, indicated that he is not supporting any of the candidates at the moment, noting that none of them have captured his interest.
Billionaire and Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, a major Republican donor, says he is sitting on the sidelines of the GOP presidential primary and not supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who he backed in 2022.
Griffin is not impressed with what he’s seeing from the alternatives to front-runner Donald Trump and has yet to decide who he plans to help, he said in an interview with CNBC’s Sara Eisen set to air Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET.
“I’m still on the sidelines as to who to support in this election cycle,” Griffin said. “Look, if I had my dream, we’d have a great Republican candidate in the primary who was younger, of a different generation, with a different tone for America. And we’d have a younger person on the Democratic side in the primary, who would have his message for our country.”
Griffin also indicated that he no longer understands DeSantis’ strategy for securing the nomination and the presidency, which seems to have figured in to his decision to stop backing him.
As for DeSantis, Griffin doesn’t understand the strategy of the Florida governor’s presidential campaign.
Before the Florida governor launched a run for the White House, Griffin said “our country would be well-served by [DeSantis] as president.”
But not anymore. “I don’t know his strategy,” Griffin said, referring to DeSantis’ 2024 campaign. “It’s not clear to me what voter base he is intending to appeal to.”
The billionaire also took issue with DeSantis’ ongoing feud with Disney, referring to it as “pointless” and saying that it does not “reflect well on the ethos of Florida.”
According to the latest polls, DeSantis is trailing former President Donald Trump by 50 points. Nevertheless, he has not backed down and has worked to turn his flailing campaign around. His Super PAC, Never Back Down, rolled out a new ad titled “Warzone,” which emphasizes DeSantis’ hawkish stance on immigration and the border crisis.
The $25 million ad campaign will be aired in Iowa and New Hampshire this week.
DeSantis is also focusing on garnering more support from evangelical Christians, a significant portion of which still supports Trump.
“I don’t know how you could be a leader without having faith in God,” the Florida governor told hundreds gathered for the Family Research Council’s Pray Vote Stand Summit on Friday in Washington, DC, repeating one of his favorite Bible lines about putting on “the full armor of God.”
“When you stand up for what’s right in this day and age, that is not going to be cost-free. … And it’s the faith in God that gives you the strength to stand firm against the lies, against the deceit, against the opposition. It gives you the foundation to know that all the insults, all the nonsense they throw at you, ultimately doesn’t matter because you are aiming higher.”
Despite Griffin’s decision, DeSantis has shown that he can raise funds effectively, so it may not hamper his campaign efforts. Still, there are likely many among the Republican voting base that might share Griffin’s concerns. But, it is still early. The governor’s team will have to continue articulating a winning message if they want to have a chance of defeating Trump.