A billionaire megadonor explains his 2016 strategy

Leslie Larson

New York billionaire John Catsimatidis has been holding court with many of the likely 2016 presidential candidates on their visits to the city.

He told Business Insider he's not going to decide which one to back until the fall and is waiting to "play out the cards." 

So far, in 2015 Catsimatidis, whose family has given millions in campaign cash to both parties, has rolled out the red carpet for likely GOP contenderswith dinners at the 21 Club, the Carlyle and Club 101. He's also interviewed several of the hopefuls on his local AM radio show including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida), former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), and former New York Gov. George Pataki (R).

"A lot of presidential candidates are visiting. I guess the Republicans finally found out that's where the money is," he told Business Insider this week.

Catsimatidis didn't meet with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) this week during Bush's trip to the city but they rubbed shoulders on at least two occasions in 2014, according to tweets posted by the billionaire

After all these visits, the grocery magnate, who also owns a real estate company and oil refinery, says he isn't quite ready to say which horse he will back in the race and plans to let the auditioning process continue. 

"We've met a lot of impressive candidates. It's going to start sorting itself out by September," he said. 

Catsimatidis, has donated liberally to both Democrats and Republicans, but since he ran for mayor in New York in 2013 as a Republican, conservatives have aggressively courted him.

That said, he won't rule out sticking with his close friend and the likely Democratic 2016 frontrunner, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

"I am very close to the Clintons and what I figure is, let's interview everyone and let's play it all out," he said.

In the meantime, CNN reported Wednesday Catsimatidis is looking to hear from another Republican who may launch a presidential bid. He is throwing a dinner featuring Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) at the Four Seasons in New York on March 25.

"There's quite a few that are very capable. Let's play out the cards."

NOW WATCH: Here's what it takes to be President Obama's right-hand man

See Also: