The Hill

By Jonathan Swan
November 29, 2015, 07:00 am

When asked who he would vote for if the presidential race comes down to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the former mayor of Los Angeles and a longtime Republican establishment figure, Dick Riordan, says: “I would probably go find a deserted island.”

“I think Hillary is disgusting,” said Riordan, a wealthy investor who has exceeded $500,000 in political donations throughout his career.

“And I think Trump is crazy,” Riordan added in a telephone interview Monday.

Riordan is not alone. In conversations over the past month, GOP establishment donors have confided to The Hill that for the first time in recent memory, they find themselves contemplating not supporting a Republican nominee for president.

Most, however, still believe that Trump will flame out before they have to face that decision.

The subject of Trump came up at a recent Beverly Hills lunch hosted by former U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Rockwell Schnabel.

Seated around the table in the private dining room of the Hotel Bel-Air were several of the West Coast’s most powerful Republican donors, including Ronald Spogli, the venture capitalist and former ambassador to Italy under President George W. Bush; his business partner Bradford Freeman; and Riordan.

A story that circulated after the lunch was that the donors engaged in a hypothetical question: “If it was Donald Trump running against Hillary Clinton, who would you vote for?”

One version has it that most of the Republicans at the table put their hands up for Clinton.

Schnabel disputes that account and said in a telephone interview Tuesday that it was just banter among friends and that he is confident that all the Republicans at the table would support the final GOP nominee for president, whomever that turns out to be.

Schnabel called back later on Tuesday afternoon to clarify what he meant. “My only caveat would be that … I assume that the Republican we’ll nominate will be somebody that would make a great president,” he said. “That’s not a conversation we’ve had to have in the past, but obviously there are some we would be concerned about.”

The four Republican donors sitting at that lunch table — Schnabel, Freeman, Spogli and Riordan — have between them contributed more than $2.7 million to candidates and political action committees over their careers.

All have donated to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign, and Freeman and Spogli have given $1 million and $50,000, respectively, to the pro-Bush super-PAC Right to Rise.

The feeling among the GOP’s business wing is not entirely negative toward Trump. The billionaire has found a couple of champions — including billionaire investor Carl Icahn — but outreach from campaign surrogates has not always found a receptive audience.

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