Campaign within campaign was battle for Adelson’s millions

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Newt Gingrich
Newt Gingrich
The news is filled today with the fact that Newt Gingrich’s campaign has been revived by ultra-Zionist Sheldon Adelson’s $5 million contribution to a Gingrich Super PAC. 

National Public Radio says that South Carolina television stations will soon be pouring out ads attacking Romney. NPR reporters gave Adelson’s Israel cause just one vague phrase, but the New York Times is more forthcoming: in the jump, it says that Gingrich’s recent statement that Palestinians are an invented people paid off for him. 

Mr. Adelson echoed Mr. Gingrich’s [invented people] comments within days in an interview with Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper.

“Read the history of those who call themselves Palestinians, and you will hear why Gingrich said recently that the Palestinians are an invented people,” Mr. Adelson said.

The Times also hints at the Jewish sweepstakes element of the campaign, emphasizing big Romney Jews who called Adelson to lobby him against the gift:

Fred Zeidman, a Texas energy executive who is another prominent Jewish political contributor and a supporter of Mr. Romney, said he was among those who called Mr. Adelson, and they talked about why he was still backing Mr. Gingrich.

The Jerusalem Post headline is pretty blunt: “Jewish billionaire made donation to keep Republican candidate competitive in S. Carolina primary, ‘Washington Post’ reports.”

My friend Scott McConnell writes in an email:

I can’t think of a recent incident in American politics (Andrew Young’s firing?) where the power of the lobby is illustrated in such a direct way, and with the potential to be   noticed by so many people. If the Adelson ads do real damage to Romney in South Carolina (as well they should!) thousands of committed Romney supporters, many of them youngish and very high achieving Mormons, will take direct notice of a phenomenon which  had before never touched them in any way they were aware of,  and to which they had surely never given much thought. 

The Adelson gift was the campaign within the Republican campaign– just as the Romney-Obama competition for billionaires is the campaign within the broader presidential campaign.
Here is some of the back story, as the press reported it at the time:
AP, December 10. Gingrich panders:

Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on Saturday defended his [December 9] statement that the Palestinians are an “invented” people, brushing aside criticism that he had unnecessarily made the Mideast peace process more difficult.

“Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes,” Gingrich said during a candidate debate in which he drew applause for asserting that it was time someone spoke the truth about the nature of Israel’s struggle with the Palestinians.

Dec. 16, Politico. Adelson denies gift:

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has discussed directing $20 million to an outside group backing Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign, multiple sources told POLITICO – a good sign for allies who have been pushing the former speaker’s longtime billionaire supporters to sign on.

But Adelson called POLITICO Thursday to challenge the characterization that he had committed $20 million…

Adelson is considered the prized get for pro-Gingrich groups.

NYT, December 30. Romney’s Jewish backers lobby Adelson:

Mr. Romney’s Florida finance team… appeared to be briefly spooked when word circulated that Sheldon Adelson, a wealthy casino magnate who is close to Mr. Gingrich, had committed $20 million to a super PAC supporting him. One of Restore Our Future’s donors called Mr. [Mel] Sembler in a panic, he said, and asked him to call Mr. Adelson — the two men are friends — to find out if it was true.

“I did call Sheldon,” Mr. Sembler said. “And he said, ‘I’m not only not giving $20 million, I haven’t given any money at all.’ ”

Presumably Fred Zeidman, whom the Times mentions today, also lobbied Adelson…

Washington Post, January 7. The drop:

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has given $5 million to an independent committee supporting GOP presidential aspirant Newt Gingrich, the first of what is expected to be many millions the Las Vegas billionaire plans to…

Good. Now when are reporters going to get on the story I reported from the 2000 campaign: that Adelson’s $300,000 in gifts to a Republican state elections committee seems to have produced Bush’s hiring of neocon Douglas Feith as an under-secretary at the Pentagon. Feith shares Adelson’s religious belief that Jerusalem must never be divided. That became Bush administration policy, abandoning the “peace process” that Clinton had undertaken. Today that peace process is a shell and a sham, and Adelson wants to keep it that way.

Last questions:  how many of these givers are committed to the Israeli colonies on the West Bank? When Rick Santorum said that all the West Bank is Israel, was he also playing Jewish sweepstakes? What is the role of Christian Zionists– do they supply money?

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Using C Span Washington Journal as a barometer, Adelson’s gifts might have the reverse effect of anything Gingrich/Romney/Santorum hoped for: voters will vote AGAINST candidates who pander to Adelsonians. On Wash Journ this morning callers overwhelmed the switchboards with calls in support of Ron Paul BECAUSE HE OPPOSES WAR and also because they believe Paul is the only choice for keeping US from attacking Iran. Ron Paul is NOT receiving institutional support from the Republican… Read more »

Weiss: “Today that peace process is a shell and a sham, and Adelson wants to keep it that way.”

Here is a 2008 New Yorker profile on Adelson by Connie Bruck that makes his opposition to the 2SS crystal clear.

Adelson is all the more significant because of his media ownership in Israel and his close friendship with Netanyahu. From Wikipedia: “In 2007, Adelson made an unsuccessful bid to purchase the Israeli newspaper Maariv. When this failed, he proceeded with parallel plans to publish a free daily newspaper to compete with Israeli, a newspaper he had co-founded in 2006 but had left.[9] The first edition of the new newspaper, Israel HaYom, was published on… Read more »

Just for my education if you please-what is the difference between the ultra and simple Zionist? It seems that here Zionists, me included, are all the same.

If Adelson’s money derails Romney (from the Mormons’ perspective) it’s going to be a wild time in the Christian Zionist world, and we are going to see sparks fly from corners no one expected because of ties in the Christian Zionist world to the Mormon world that no one knows about. Mitt is not worried about the $5 million, or even the $20. That’s chump change for him, personally. It’s the fact that Gingrich becomes… Read more »