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Snake Eyes

Newt Gingrich has long relied on the financial largesse of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a Republican Jewish Coalition leader. But now the money man is facing trouble, and that could be the former speaker’s undoing.

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Gingrich arriving at the Republican Jewish Coalition event in Beverly Hills Sunday. (David McNew/Getty Images)

If Newt Gingrich is serious about becoming president of the United States, this weekend was surely the time for him to give the speech of his life. A fluke of timing put the former speaker of the House onstage Sunday for a planned foreign-policy address in front of a roomful of Republican Jewish donors in Beverly Hills, at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s $250-a-plate “Summer Bash” fundraiser. A few days earlier, his top campaign aides had quit, and the next day would be a make-or-break appearance at last night’s first major public debate among Republican contenders. The event, in the ballroom of the Beverly Hilton, honored the billionaire casino magnate and pro-Israel activist Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam—who not incidentally have been Gingrich’s chief patrons. But the bond the former speaker forged with Adelson—which was supposed to bring one money and the other influence—may end up delivering neither.

Gingrich gamely tried to project optimism. “I am running for president to lead a movement of Americans who will insist on changing Washington so we can renew America,” he announced from the podium. But he made no bones about the straits he is in, and he borrowed from William Faulkner’s Nobel speech to cast himself as a martyr.  “I will endure the challenges,” Gingrich said. “And with the help of every American who wants to change Washington, we will prevail.”

The dominant story line about Gingrich’s campaign implosion last week is that his aides had despaired of weaning him from the influence of his third wife, Callista, whom he chose to squire on a Greek cruise rather than going on hayrides through the cornfields of Iowa. But it is also clear that the mass defections were, as Politico put it, “all about the Benjamins”—or, more specifically, the lack thereof. Campaign finance records aren’t due to be released before July, but according to the Washington Post, the Gingrich campaign didn’t have the $25,000 it needed to enter the crucial Iowa straw poll in August, let alone another $30,000 to buy voter lists, while Gingrich was insistent on flying chartered planes for as much as $500,000 a pop. Gingrich had declined to set up a dedicated finance committee, the paper added, and he wasn’t used to fundraising under the rules passed since he left Congress more than a decade ago—and, in the meantime, he has grown accustomed to enjoying Adelson’s largesse.

In the absence of federal filings, it isn’t clear how much Adelson, who Forbes ranked in March as the fifth-richest man in America, has contributed to Gingrich’s campaign so far. But he has been the top donor to Gingrich’s political advocacy group, American Solutions Winning for the Future, giving more than $7 million, or about 13 percent of the $52 million the group has raised since its inception in 2007. Adelson has been sufficiently invested in promoting Gingrich, especially within the American Jewish community, that he took the time last month to call the editor of New York’s Jewish Week to complain about an article he found unfair.

Yet editorial decisions at local Jewish newspapers have far less chance of influencing the Gingrich candidacy than Adelson’s own fortunes—and, as it happens, Las Vegas Sands, the source of the casino mogul’s immense wealth, is currently under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The probe stems from bribery allegations lodged in a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by the company’s former operations head in the Chinese enclave of Macau. Las Vegas Sands says it is cooperating, but since the disclosure, the company has lost more than $3.5 billion in value, or more than 11 percent, and last week Deutsche Bank booted the company off its list of short-term buy recommendations.

In other words, the largest single source of Gingrich’s backing is now, at least to some degree, both less flush than he used to be and newly at the mercy of the Obama Administration—a situation that can’t have improved the mood of Gingrich’s cash-strapped strategists as they wondered about where their next paychecks might be coming from. Last year, a person familiar with Adelson’s thinking told me that he wasn’t going to commit to new philanthropic expenditures until Sands stock hit a certain price, though it wasn’t clear just what that price was. At the time, Sands shares were hovering just below $30—a far cry from their 2007 highs of $140 but a vast improvement over their 2008 lows of less than $2—but it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that, if the market really starts to tank, Adelson might wind up sidelining himself politically, too.

As it turned out, Adelson was a no-show at the Beverly Hilton Sunday night. His wife, Miriam, told the audience that he was fighting a bad flu—“He is really suffering, leaking from every corner of the eyes, his nose. Not his ears!” But she conspicuously failed to give Gingrich a shout-out during her turn at the dais, where she accepted the evening’s Ronald Reagan Award for her husband. Earlier in the evening, when Gingrich emerged from a VIP reception to face a horde of television cameras swarming the pre-dinner cocktail bar, she went the other way, a blur of ice-blond hair and brilliant white pantsuit click-clicking through the hotel lobby. “Pay attention to the speech. It is so good. He is such a lover of Israel,” Miriam Adelson told me, in a brief interview near the front entrance. But what about his presidential ambitions? “Let’s not talk about politics,” she said, giving a Mona Lisa smile and shaking her head as she walked away.

It was a response far short of the full-throated, fighting endorsement Gingrich might reasonably have expected from the wife and proxy of his biggest fan—at an event almost expressly designed to facilitate matchmaking between the candidate and Adelson’s fellow Republican Jewish Coalition board members and activists. Gingrich, who characteristically chose to give a 40-minute-long lecture about the history of the Middle East conflict rather than a barnstorming campaign speech, was warmly received by the audience, which obligingly booed mentions of Obama’s name and cheered Gingrich’s repeated statements about not brooking any accommodation with Hamas. But that doesn’t do much to answer the question of who, especially among fiscally conscious Republican donors, would start giving money to Gingrich’s campaign now, in the absence of a credible campaign team. (The pollster Frank Luntz managed to punk Republican Jewish Coalition head Matt Brooks into tweeting, just before Gingrich took the stage Sunday, that he would be taking over the Gingrich command.)

Which raises, for the Republican Jewish Coalition, the uncomfortable possibility that, just as Gingrich’s dependence on Adelson may turn out to be his Achilles’ heel, the group’s willingness to follow Adelson’s lead in favoring Gingrich so early on may ultimately leave it without the influence it craves over a GOP presidential field that remains highly fluid—and whose leading members like Mitt Romney and even the famously pro-Israel maybe-candidate Sarah Palin were elsewhere, enjoying other audiences.

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Dorothy Wachsstock says:

What makes it impossible to read this mag is that you do not finish the story. Pres Obama gave a pack of lies to AIPAC as he met with the G8 and again tried to put in the 1967 line for Israel. Not reported that the P.M. of Canada saved Israel and promised to defend Israe.

More than we can say for this President. Thus my asking for you not to send this anymore. I know you will not print this but wanted Allison Hoffman to know that Jew are now voting republican. They parties have changed places with this Pres.

Dorothy Wachsstock says:

Forgive the typo errors. I do know how to spell but was so angry that I left out a letter here and there.

Sandi B says:

It is called “betting on the wrong horse”………and both Adelson and this group of Republicans did just that.

Dubala says:

I hope Adelson goes broke so he can stop funding that right wing rag of a newspaper in Israel!

rlgordonma says:

Dorothy Wachsstock says:

“…wanted Allison Hoffman to know that Jew are now voting republican.”
“…was so angry that I left out a letter here and there.”

Ms. Wachsstock:

It is a fairly stock characteristic of anti-Semites to lump Jews into a single monolith. Likely you meant that Pres. Obama will take a hit from the speech. Maybe, maybe not. If he does, it is because his words were twisted around to spew a form of radicalism which reflects not the President but his Republican opponents.

Pres. Obama received 78% of Jewish votes. I’d be amazed, amazed if less than 65% of Jews vote for him in 2012. I predict 75%.

I, for one, will not vote for Obama – because he is clearly bad for the Jewish people – in addition to being the worst president in my life time.

This is based on his terrible performance in terms of domestic and foreign policy.

He is even worse than Carter, who had the “honor” of worst until now.

I hope many other Jews realize how bad he has been for the Jewish people, and for the US as a whole.

Hopefully, we will have a better option in his opponent, and Jews will act based on what is truly best rather than just voting for the Democrats out of old, and inappropriate in this case, habits.

Norm says:

@ Dubala : The “right wing rag of a newspaper in Israel” called Israel
Hayom is of higher quality then 90% of dailies in the USA. And Adelson
is not worse then the financiers of Obama’s campaign.

Joshua G. says:

Gingrich and the various right-wing politicians and theocrats that Adelson and other ultra wealthy Republican Jews term “lovers if Israel” are nothing of the kind. These ambitious
men (and women) are lovers of the military-industrial complex, lovers of power, lovers of endless (and very profitable) war; lovers of Armaggedon (which many of them pine for). But they are not lovers of Israel, nor of the Jews – except for the ones who can write fat checks to help these hypocrites into the spotlight. They don’t love Israel. And they don’t love us. They love the money we provide for their campaigns. I am ashamed that our community supports them at all.

Shalom Freedman says:

The newspaper ‘Israel HaYom’ which Sheldon Adelson funds is a responsible slightly right- of – center newspaper which is now the largest daily circulation paper in Israel. Its major rival, ‘Yediot Achronot’ tilts strongly leftward, and has a very strong tabloid touch. The so – called ‘New York Times’ of Israel ‘Haaretz’ has a very strong radical Left- wing bias and is out of touch completely with the great majority of Israelis politically.

Bill Pearlman says:

I know this is going to shock Ms Hoffman but has a long time RJC member I can tell you that one Adelson, isn’t hurting. B, he is an older guy and the flu is a problem at that age. And lastly, he isn’t king. Plenty of people like the other candidates. None of whom are friends with Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, or Rashid Khalidi.

Michael says:

Baruch Hashem that Adelson may be busted on some financial corruption. After reading a profile of him in the New Yorker last year, I dubbed him the with the Yiddish phrase #1 “grobber yung” – a coarse person. If half the quotes were correct, he should all Jews to shame. That he supports Newt, another corrupt – morally and financially – person is no surprise. They deserve one another.

Michael says:

Shalom freedman characterizes Haaretz as “strong radical Left.” What in the world does this mean?! What a rhetorical and uneducated comment. Is the editorial board of Haaretz Stalinist, Leninist, Trotskyist, social democratic, Ber Borochovist (look it up if you don’t know who this Zionist thinker was), etc.? Please let us know what you mean by this characterization, if you can.

Three Republican Presidents created this terrible Recession By:
1.Pushing “Free Trade” on very slippery platforms with China, India, and Latin America.Tax incentives for outsourcing. Melting away the better jobs.
2. Loosening up immigration controls to bring in illegal aliens for our poorest jobs.
3.Making regulatory agencies dormant, with jobs for lawyers instead of CPAs, in the SEC’s, allowing “Wall Street” to run amok! Loosening guideline on lending for real estate mortgages, allowing Wall Street to create bonds out of worthless mortgages, and forcing bond rating agencies to rate them AAA rather than C.
These gangsters have the Chutspah to blame the recession on Obama, one that they caused. I’d bury them before I’d vote for them.
4. Reducing taxes on the rich and large corporations, thus reducing gov’t. income.
5. Getting us into phony wars to help large corporations profit, and to bring back veterans with severe PTS, which will cost us billions in treatment.
We are becoming a home for the rich who support the lobbyists.
Israel and it’s US lobby can take care of correcting Obama, but the rest of us need to clean up government, and vote in a cleaner Democratic Congress, possibly recall some Right Wing Supreme Court Justices,get out of wars we can’t win, and reverse outsourcing.

Berel Nissan should know that it is Obama who has expanded the war in Afghanistan and has created the US involvement in Libya.

As for free trade, Bill Clinton is the source of much of this, along with the Democrats in Wall Street such as Larry Summers, Rubin and others.

And the housing bubble is the result of Bill Clinton’s policies, supported by Barney Frank in Congress and the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Democratic appointees. Check it out. The bursting of that bubble, which was fueled by the Wall Street banks (who were supporters of Clinton and later Obama) is what began this recession.

And it is Obama who has for 2 + years presided in the endless government giveaways which have only extended the recession.

So I say, almost anyone would be better than Obama – especially for the Jewish people and for Israel.

Pat Silver says:

Thank you, Berel Nissan. You are correct in all your points especially the Right Wing judges. A few more of them on the Supreme Court and it is goodbye to separation of church and state and all that that portends for Jews.

Rod O says:

“Callista and I” agree with your comments Eli! There’s no doubt that Newt tripped over more than his stupid ego on his way to a republican nomination in order to impress his ‘insert current name here’ wife. Once that middle aged reality show is over for Newt (start the egg timer), I hope the true supporters of Israel will come out and support the Republican nominee. I don’t know what more Barack Obama can do to convince you he’s no friend of Israel. Please read “What Obama did to Israel” article by Charles Krauthammer. To quote Peggy Noonan (on B.O. and the economy) – “he made them all worse”. Obama certainly did here.

rigordonna: Prepare to be amazed.

oBUMa turned me into a republican

Batya says:

There is nothing worse than self-hating Jews who vote for Republicans because of their “love of Israel”. Politicians are elected to care for their own country first. As much as I love Israel and my Jewish heritage, it is embarrassing to me to listen to the rhetoric of fools who think in the big picture any of these candidates care one iota for Jews any more than anyone else who provides funds.
I also hope that the government catches up with Adelson — it will be a blemish on him just as Weiner and Madoff and company, but just maybe he deserves it.

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Snake Eyes

Newt Gingrich has long relied on the financial largesse of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, a Republican Jewish Coalition leader. But now the money man is facing trouble, and that could be the former speaker’s undoing.

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