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Billionaire GOP donor Stephen Schwarzman backs Trump in ‘vote for change’

By Kayla Tausche, CNN

(CNN) — Billionaire businessman and lifelong Republican Stephen Schwarzman said Friday he will support the candidacy of Donald Trump with a “vote for change” after years of declining to back a particular GOP presidential candidate.

In a statement, Schwarzman said, “The dramatic rise of antisemitism has led me to focus on the consequences of upcoming elections with greater urgency. I share the concern of most Americans that our economic, immigration and foreign policies are taking the country in the wrong direction. For these reasons, I am planning to vote for change and support Donald Trump for President. In addition, I will be supporting Republican Senate candidates and other Republicans up and down the ticket.”

The move represents a decided shift for Schwarzman, the CEO of the private equity firm Blackstone, who made comments critical of Trump in the wake of the 2020 election and suggested in 2022 that the Republican Party needed to seek a “new generation” of leaders.

But that new crop of leaders did not materialize. Schwarzman declined to back Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in May 2023 after a meeting with the Republican presidential hopeful left Schwarzman uninspired.

Schwarzman supported Trump in the 2016 election and became a trusted adviser once Trump took office. The private equity mogul chaired a prominent business advisory council that weighed in on economic and trade issues and projected a public image of support from corporate America. But the group disbanded after Trump said that a violent Charlottesville white nationalist rally had good people “on both sides.”

“Bigotry, hatred and extremism are an affront to core American values and have no place in this country,” Schwarzman said at the time.

Other top executives at Blackstone, which manages $1 trillion, have backed Democrats. Jon Gray, the firm’s chief operating officer, supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. Gray, the billionaire heir apparent to Schwarzman, has hosted fundraisers for President Joe Biden in the 2024 cycle.

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