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Sunday, October 23, 2016

By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times

As the 2016 Republican hopefuls quietly court donors this year, few have as much attraction as billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who, along with wife Miriam, gave more than $92 million to campaign groups in 2012.

That’s why some of the top potential contenders for the presidential nomination plan to head to Las Vegas late this week to court Adelson at a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition, for which he provides much of the money and serves as chair of the board.

Jeb Bush, who plans to make a decision about a presidential run by early next year, will get top billing as the featured speaker Thursday night at a private VIP dinner in the hangar that houses Adelson’s fleet.

On Saturday, three other prominent hopefuls — Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — will address the broader gathering at Adelson’s hotel, the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino. The Republican National Committee’s data guru, Andy Barkett, will also talk to the group as he tries to raise money for the GOP’s project to enhance and enrich the party’s voter files.

Adelson showed his ability to wreak havoc on the Republican primary process in 2012 when he and his wife almost single-handedly kept the candidacy of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich alive by donating $10 million to a pro-Gingrich “super PAC” that was running ads attacking Mitt Romney.

After assiduous courting by Romney’s team, the casino magnate later became a major donor to Restore Our Future, the super PAC that supported the former Massachusetts governor’s candidacy.

When Romney went to Jerusalem in the summer of 2012, Adelson and his wife were seated in one of the front rows as Romney delivered a speech on the Iranian nuclear threat and the importance of strengthening the ties between the U.S. and Israel — two of Adelson’s top concerns. And Adelson sat next to Romney at an intimate fundraiser at the King David Hotel shortly before the candidate left Israel.

For the three governors, Saturday’s appearance before Adelson and other potential big-money donors will be an early opportunity to frame their foreign policy arguments. They’ll speak against a backdrop of rising concern about Russia’s incursion into Ukraine and how it could affect the negotiations to restrict Tehran’s nuclear activities.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has been a key force behind a stalled Senate bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran if it violated the terms of the interim agreement reached with U.S. and other major powers in November. The proposed legislation includes language stating that if Israel were to take military action in “legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapon program, the U.S. should provide diplomatic, military and economic support.”

The White House issued a veto threat in December, warning that the bill could scuttle negotiations.

In recent presidential cycles, the Republican Jewish Coalition — and its allied super PAC — has focused on capturing for the GOP a greater share of the Jewish vote, which has overwhelmingly favored Democrats. In the final months of 2012, the group spent more than $7 million on a targeted effort to reach voters in Florida, Ohio, Nevada and Pennsylvania through ads, phone banking and door-knocking.

Romney lost in those four states, but he won 30 percent of the Jewish vote to Obama’s 69 percent, according to an exit poll analysis by the Pew Research Center (marking a dip from Obama’s 78 percent share of the Jewish vote in 2008). Leaders at the Republican Jewish Coalition say they see promise in the trend line, noting that Romney doubled the share of the Jewish vote received by GOP nominees in the 1990s.

But Democratic strategists have vigorously argued that there is little evidence that Republicans are making headway within that slice of the electorate. State-by-state measurements are difficult because the number of Jews in the exit poll sample are small, so the margin of error is big. Pew’s analysis showed that the Jewish vote accounted for 2 percent of the 2012 electorate compared with 4 percent in 2000.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

  • Dominick Vila

    I doubt the GOP will repeat the Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney fiasco. The GOP establishment, under the guidance of their most powerful donors, are going to look for a candidate with stature, relevant experience, and solid conservative credentials to face Hillary Clinton in 2016. At the moment, the only Republican who meets those requirements is Jeb Bush. Yes, he carries a lot of baggage, but compared to the rest of the gang he would be a formidable opponent, and the big boys known it.
    Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and all the others who have been getting most of the media attention in recent months are distractions designed to divert attention and delay attacks on the person who will win the GOP nomination in 2016.

    • JDavidS

      Don’t kid yourself. That decision has as yet not been made. While it indeed may look as though Bush is the anointed one, the GOP are nothing if not pragmatic. They’d run a two-headed goat if they thought it gave them the best chance at winning the White House. There’s a lot of time left and a week is an eternity in politics…much can, and I daresay, will happen between now and the GOP nomination.

  • Grannysmovin

    Another politician going to sell his soul and pledge his allegiance to a money man with a promise to sell out the American People.

  • Eagle05

    Though I know I shouldn’t be but I am a little surprised Gov. Jeb Bush is stooping so low to kiss Adelson’s posterior. Jeb seems to be at least two cuts above the other shaggers, excepting John Kasich who may be a class act in himself. Too early to tell.

  • OakenTruncheon

    Too bad what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas, eh?

  • jakenhyde

    I’d say that Adelson’s support is the kiss of death for the recipient. He wasted millions of dollars in the last election cycle and didn’t have one single winner.

  • howa4x

    Adelson supports right wing Israeli politicians and is an obstacle to peace between them and the Palestinians. He bends Republican politics to their interests and is angry at Obama because he stood up to the Lobby and said both sides have to bend for peace. Most Israeli’s want peace and are tired of a small group of right wing politicians funded by people like Adelson drive the issue. He lives in America and should keep his money out of Israeli politics and let the people who live there determine the issue.

  • James Oss

    He’s creepy. Not in a way like Texas governor Perry who is creepy like a Texas evangelist e.g. Olsteen. No, creepy like old chronic masturbaters who hire classy prostitutes to play with themselves in his view allthewhile he flongs his flacud Cheney.

  • charles king

    I do not worry about these people with a lot of MONIES cause they can only buy those Who? are up for sale. I helped to Put President Obama in the White House (2x’s) and I did not spend a dime. How? you ask, well I will tell you. Mr. Ed and myself decided that the country was going in the wrong and we decided to Do something about it. Well you know the outcome Mr. Obama did his thing (2x’s) and all MR. ED and I wore around town was T-shirts of President Obama, our motto (1 at a time) so you people with all that MONIES to spend try spending it on getting the county working again cause Democracy Works, along with OBAMACARE, wake up billionnares Our Democracy is Not For Sell. Thank You are the magic words in my book. I Love Ya All. Mr. C. E. KING P.S. Still look out for those (Greedy Capitialistic Pigs, Plutocracts, Do Nothing Reps and Dems in Congress and anyother Do Nothing cracts) My Motto Is (You Do Not Do Nothing)