Gingrich funder isn't trying to 'buy' the presidency, aide says
(MSNBC) -- by Michael Isikoff --
Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino mogul bankrolling Newt Gingrich’s super PAC isn’t trying to “buy” a presidency, his top political consultant tells NBC News. He’s just following in the footsteps of another powerful business tycoon, Joseph Kennedy, father of President John F. Kennedy.
“I don’t think it’s buying a presidency any more than it was when Joe Kennedy helped his son,” Sig Rogich, a veteran Republican operative who serves as Adelson’s government affairs consultant, said in an interview about the massive donations that the casino mogul has made to Gingrich’s super PAC.
Adelson, 78, who has a personal fortune estimated at $21 billion, “plays to win” and “puts his money where his mouth is,” Rogich added.
In the last three weeks, Adelson and his Israeli-born wife Miriam have pumped $10 million into the Winning Our Future Super PAC. Those donations provided a critical cash infusion that helped revive Gingrich’s candidacy, bankrolling attack ads against Mitt Romney in South Carolina and now Florida. They’ve also made the Adelsons the largest known donors so far in a presidential race awash with money under new rules allowing unlimited donations to so-called super PACs.
But the contributions have also raised new questions about Adelson’s outside role in influencing the campaign. Those questions could intensify as a result of potentially provocative comments he has made about Israel uncovered by NBC News.
Adelson owns a newspaper in Israel, 'Israel HaYom,' that backs conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and adamantly opposes any peace settlement with the Palestinians.
But while Adelson and Gingrich have bonded on the issue of a hawkish Mideast policy, especially over the threat of a nuclear Iran, some of the casino mogul’s comments could prove embarrassing.
In a talk to an Israeli group in July, 2010, Adelson said he wished he had served in the Israeli Army rather than the U.S. military—and that he hoped his young son would come back to Israel and “be a sniper for the IDF,” a reference to the Israel Defense Forces. (YouTube video of speech)
“I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF ... our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he’ll come back-- his hobby is shooting -- and he’ll come back and be a sniper for the IDF,” Adelson said at the event.
“All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart,” he said toward the end of his talk...MORE...LINK