Sheldon Adelson's Long Odds on Gingrich

| Fri Feb. 3, 2012 4:44 PM EST
Sheldon Adelson

Arguably, the only thing that's kept Newt Gingrich in the running this long (besides a gargantuan heap of grandiosity) is Sheldon Adelson's money. Adelson, the chairman of the Las Vegas Sands casino company, has, with his wife Miriam, poured a whopping $10 million into the pro-Gingrich super-PAC Winning Our Future. With Mitt Romney looking like a sure thing to win this Saturday's primary in Adelson's home state of Nevada, it remains to be seen if the casino mogul will keep bankrolling Gingrich if he goes for broke and hate-runs against Romney until the Republican convention.

Looking at Adelson's past, it's clear that he's not reluctant to put his money where his beliefs are, even if those bets may not pay off. Adelson made his name (and fortune) with his "take-no-prisoners ambition," as Peter Stone wrote in a 2008 Mother Jones profile. At the time, Adelson was a major backer of Freedom's Watch, a would-be conservative MoveOn.org, which envisioned a "never-ending campaign" to keep the White House and maintain a Republican majority in Washington, DC.

In spite of Adelson's contributions, Freedom's Watch never really took off. As MoJo's Laura Rozen later reported, some of the group's supporters blamed Adelson himself:

"He is both meddlesome and attached to his own agenda," says a conservative think tanker. "And he is not listening to people who are giving him good political and strategic advice…Everyone I know comes away very frustrated from their experience" with Freedom's Watch.

The son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, Adelson is also a vigorous supporter of conservative Israeli causes and politicians, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As Adam Serwer explains, "Adelson's donation to Gingrich likely has something to do with their shared anti-Palestinian views, namely the notion that Palestinian national identity is 'invented.'"

If Gingrich gets trounced in Nevada, will the gambling tycoon hold 'em or fold 'em? Or will he raise? With an estimated net worth of $21.5 billion, as Time's Michael Crowley has pointed out, Adelson can afford to spend at least another 0.0465% of his total fortune on this race.

Update: Apparently, Adelson's opposition to Obama trumps his affection for Gingrich. According to the New York Times, Adelson is preparing to get behind Romney when the time is right. Asked about the report, Gingrich told The Hill, "Sheldon's primary driving source is the survival of the United States and Israel in the face of an Iranian nuclear weapon. And compared to Barack Obama, virtually anybody is a better candidate. So that doesn't bother me at all." You gotta admire Newt's poker face.

 

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