Las Vegas (CNN) – Ted Cruz gathered top campaign and super PAC donors here over wine and pistachio macaroons on Friday evening, kicking off a weekend-long push to win over the party’s biggest financiers.
Cruz and about 40 leading contributors marched into a restaurant in The Venetian hotel as the first full day of the Republican Jewish Coalition spring meeting ended. Cruz is set to speak to the influential group on Saturday afternoon.
And there were early signs of success; Cruz was joined late Friday evening at Aquaknox restaurant by several people who are donors to the RJC but are not on his national finance committee, which is gathering at the Venetian simultaneously this weekend.
Senior campaign aides, super PAC aides and representatives from GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson, who has been elusively neutral in the GOP race, were also on hand. Aides to the campaign and super PAC will brief top donors beginning Saturday morning.
Cruz’s outreach to Jewish voters picked up steam as he landed in the Empire State and hit the pavement in Brooklyn’s Jewish Orthodox enclave of Brighton Beach where, flanked by Orthodox Jews, he joined a group of children in making matzo, the unleavened bread observant Jews eat during Passover.
While Trump is holding onto a wide lead over Cruz in New York, the state’s congressional district-based system for doling out 81 of its 95 GOP convention delegates presents an opportunity for Cruz to make some inroads in targeted districts. And Cruz is targeting those with heavy Jewish Orthodox populations.
“Cruz has been reaching out to that community for a long time,” said Nathan Diament, executive director of the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, pointing to Cruz’s speaking slot at a ritzy Passover getaway last year.
Cruz’s appeal to the strictly observant Jewish community, Diament said, stems from the Texas senator’s record of support for Israel, his school choice advocacy and his relentless hammering of the need to defend religious liberty protections on the campaign trail.
Diament said that while some Orthodox Jews are attracted to Trump’s candidacy, Cruz’s legislative record and values-oriented candidacy give him a leg up on the brash billionaire.
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