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Posted on on February 6th, 2012
by Pincas Jawetz (

Gingrich Patron Could Have a Plan B: Romney.

By  and 
Published THE NEW YORK TIMES ONLINE: February 4, 2012.

LAS VEGAS — Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino executive keeping Newt Gingrich’s presidential hopes alive, has relayed assurances to Mitt Romney that he will provide even more generous support to his candidacy if he becomes the Republican nominee, several associates said in interviews here.

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson have given $10 million to a “super PAC” that supports Newt Gingrich.

Party Contributions: A Balance Sheet


Romney Scores Nevada Victory With Broad G.O.P. Support(February 5, 2012)

In Las Vegas, Making Sure the Caucuses Accommodate (February 4, 2012)

The Man Behind Gingrich’s Money (January 29, 2012)


The signals from Mr. Adelson, whose politics are shaped in large part by his support for Israel, reflect what the associates said was his deep investment in defeating  President Obama and his willingness to play a more prominent role in the Republican Party and conservative causes.

The assurances have been conveyed in response to a highly delicate campaign by Mr. Romney and his top Jewish financial supporters to dissuade Mr. Adelson from adding to the $10 million that he and his wife have given to a pro-Gingrich “super PAC,” Winning Our Future, that has been tearing into Mr. Romney through television advertising.

Several people who have spoken with Mr. Adelson over the past two weeks said he would most likely continue to help the group as long as Mr. Gingrich remained in the race. But, they said, he is concerned that additional deep-pocketed donors have not joined him. And, they said, his affection for and loyalty to Mr. Gingrich, who met with him here on Friday, have not blinded him to the reality that the nominating contest is tilting in Mr. Romney’s favor.

“Sheldon is committed to keeping him in the race as long as he wants to stay in,” said Fred Zeidman, a top fund-raiser for Mr. Romney and a longtime friend of Mr. Adelson. “But any time that Newt decides to get out of the race, he would devote his energy and money to the overriding issue, which is beating Barack Obama.”

Underscoring Mr. Adelson’s devotion to that larger cause, he was among the conservative political financiers on hand last weekend for the twice-yearly gathering of the billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch near Palm Springs, Calif., where the Kochs and their like-minded colleagues discussed their efforts to ensure Mr. Obama’s defeat.

Mr. Adelson, who has long been a behind-the-scenes financier to Republican candidates, is said to be comfortable with a more visible role in the 2012 election. His decision to back the pro-Gingrich group has significantly raised his profile, but friends say he does not want his aid to Mr. Gingrich to be interpreted as anti-Romney.

The Winning Our Future super PAC has mostly run vitriolic television commercials questioning Mr. Romney’s character.

“He saw a friend who needed and wanted help,” said an associate who talks to Mr. Adelson regularly, speaking on the condition of anonymity to avoid upsetting him. “I don’t think it’s likely that he’s going to fund Newt’s death march to Tampa,” the site of the Republican National Convention, “but if there is a realistic perception that he can help make his candidacy viable, he will.”

Mr. Adelson declined to be interviewed.

His role is especially pronounced in Las Vegas, where his opulent and highly successful Venetian and Palazzo casinos dot the busy skyline.

His connection with Mr. Gingrich goes back years, built on a shared passion for protecting Israel. But associates of Mr. Adelson said that he was concerned about the Obama agenda more broadly and that his support for Mr. Gingrich’s candidacy was rooted in a belief that his lofty ideas and forceful approach were right for the challenging times.

Mr. Gingrich, whose campaign treasury is severely depleted, is being advised by his inner circle to spend the weeks leading up to Super Tuesday on March 6 resting up, getting Mr. Romney’s attacks out of his head and recalibrating his campaign message to highlight his positive ideas.

But his aides acknowledge that Mr. Adelson’s support will be critical to his ability to seriously challenge Mr. Romney, who appeared to be in a strong position for contests in several states this month.

Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Adelson met on Friday afternoon in the Bellini Ballroom of the Venetian Hotel as part of a “Friends of Newt” meeting. Mr. Gingrich and his wife, Callista, stayed four nights at the hotel, which Mr. Adelson owns, but aides said the two men had met only once among a small group of donors and had not discussed the super PAC.

In a brief interview after the meeting, Mr. Gingrich said Mr. Adelson had been vital in giving Winning Our Future the wherewithal to counter the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, which had relentlessly attacked him in Iowa.

“He’s been a partial match for the Romney super PAC,” Mr. Gingrich said. “That’s important because, otherwise, the Romney super PAC would have driven us off the field.”

When asked if his candidacy could proceed without additional support from Mr. Adelson, Mr. Gingrich did not answer, crossing beneath the bright fresco ceilings into the private dining room of Postrio, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant, where a small group of donors and friends awaited, along with servers pouring red wine.

Fully cognizant that Mr. Adelson is an important factor in determining when Mr. Romney can turn his focus away from Mr. Gingrich and more fully toward Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney and his top financial advisers have been pursuing a careful strategy of outreach to Mr. Adelson.

The effort included a telephone conversation, initiated by Mr. Romney, about two weeks ago, according to three people who were briefed about it and who would discuss it only on the condition of anonymity. They described it as cordial, with Mr. Adelson even sharing some advice about his campaign message.

It was the first time the two men had spoken to each other in about four months. Mr. Romney’s campaign had no formal comment, though a senior aide said they shared a “mutual respect for each other.”

There are significant links between the Romney campaign and Mr. Adelson, particularly through several top-level donors who raise money for Mr. Romney and sit with Mr. Adelson on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition, created in 1985 as a way to foster closer ties between the American Jewish community and Republican leaders.

The Romney donors have sought to convey a carefully balanced message to Mr. Adelson, people aware of the discussions said. They warned that continued support for Mr. Gingrich could help Mr. Obama by leaving Republicans wounded and divided but made it clear that Mr. Romney would welcome Mr. Adelson’s backing. They also avoided angering Mr. Adelson in a way that might lead him to give more money to Mr. Gingrich out of pique. He is cantankerous, his friends say, and inclined to make his own decisions without relying on conventional wisdom or guidance from political advisers.

Those who are said to have reached out are also described by fellow Republican financiers as being as loyal to Mr. Adelson as they are to Mr. Romney (if not in some cases even more so).

People involved in some of the discussions said Mr. Adelson generally expressed his affection for Mr. Gingrich in explaining his support. But it has been in some of those interactions that Mr. Adelson has made it clear that he will be generous to the broad presidential effort in the fall if Mr. Romney is the nominee. Associates say the message has been conveyed that for a man of Mr. Adelson’s wealth, $10 million is a relative pittance and that he is willing to budget much more.

Four years ago, Mr. Adelson supported Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential bid, but he and Mr. Romney have been friendly for years. Mr. Romney showed up here at Mr. Adelson’s side in one of his first 2011 campaign appearances, during a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

A friend of Mr. Romney’s, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr. Romney did not begrudge Mr. Adelson’s initial $5 million donation to the pro-Gingrich group, given Mr. Adelson’s known loyalty. But Mr. Romney was said to have been deeply stung by a second $5 million donation, from Mr. Adelson’s wife, Miriam. And the group’s harsh attacks against Mr. Romney were said to have upset Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, though his aides said she was inured to them.

Yet for all of the tension, people close to Mr. Adelson predicted that all would be forgotten if Mr. Romney was the nominee, given that, in the words of one close associate, “he will do whatever it takes to beat Obama in the fall.”


Romney Scores Nevada Victory With Broad G.O.P. Support.

Josh Haner/The New York Times

Mitt Romney celebrated his victory in Las Vegas on Saturday. More Photos »

By  and 
Published – THE NEW YORK TIMES ON LINE: February 4, 2012.
IN PRINT – February 5, 2012

LAS VEGAS — Mitt Romney handily won the Nevada caucuses on Saturday, solidifying his status as the front-runner and increasing his momentum as he seeks to use the month of February to ease doubts within the Republican Party about his candidacy and begin confronting President Obama.

Nevada Caucus Results »

Romney 42.6%
Gingrich 26.0
Paul 18.4
Santorum 13.0
Others 0.0
6:10 AM45% reporting

Caucusgoers lined up at Liberty High School in Henderson, Nev., as Republicans cast ballots in the first vote in the West. More Photos »

Mr. Romney ran well ahead of his three opponents on a night that delivered his second decisive first-place finish in four days, following his victory in the Florida primary on Tuesday.

He appeared elated as he took the stage at his election headquarters at the Red Rock Casino hotel here, kissing his wife, Ann, who reminded the crowd that Nevada would be important in the general election, and hugging his sons before delivering a speech geared toward the fall.

“This is not the first time you’ve given me your vote of confidence, and this time I’m going to take it to the White House,” he said as the crowd chanted his name. And he delivered a harsh critique of Mr. Obama: “This week he’s been trying to take a bow for 8.3 percent unemployment. Not so fast, Mr. President.”

Nevada offers only a sliver of the delegates needed to win the Republican nomination, making it more of a symbolic triumph than a practical one. But it gave Mr. Romney an important opportunity to make a more assertive case that the party is finally coming together behind him.

It also gave him an advantage in his attempt to dispatch his chief Republican rival, Newt Gingrich, through the contests this week in Colorado, Minnesota and Maine.

The Romney victory further deflated the once-vital challenge posed by Mr. Gingrich, girding for a rough few weeks of political weather during which Mr. Romney is expected to do well. But Mr. Gingrich, who remained defiant on Saturday, hopes to revive his chances with stronger showings in the 11 states that vote on March 6, “Super Tuesday.”

Far from competing with Mr. Romney here in Nevada on Saturday, results showed that Mr. Gingrich was vying to place a distant second to Mr. Romney against Representative Ron Paul of Texas.

Mr. Gingrich was once again in the position of vowing to carry on in the face of questions about his viability. He took his second straight defeat to Mr. Romney as an opportunity to hold a press briefing to outline his strategy for continuing on to the Republican convention in Tampa this summer.

The election night imagery was striking: Mr. Romney was surrounded by cheering supporters holding signs that said “Nevada Believes.” Mr. Gingrich used his first television appearance of the night to speak to a ballroom of reporters, without applause or signs, standing before a simple backdrop as he outlined his strategy.

“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” Mr. Gingrich said emphatically. “I will be a candidate of the president of the United States. I will go to Tampa.”

He went on to present an unusually detailed discussion of the campaign process that is rarely heard from a candidate on an election night.

He said he expected to catch up with Mr. Romney in the delegate race by the time of the Texas primary on April 3, promising that “the contrast between Governor Romney and me is going to get wider and wider and clearer and clearer.”

Aides said that he had spent the past four days hunkered down in the sprawling complex of the Venetian and Palazzo casinos — owned by his supporter Sheldon Adelson — planning his new way forward. He has settled on what one of them described as a “definitional campaign” to disqualify Mr. Romney in the eyes of Republican voters in the coming weeks.

The Nevada Republican Party disclosed the results slowly on Saturday, with a patchwork of votes coming in from across the state. But Clark County, which is home to Las Vegas and includes half of the electorate, did not disclose its results until after a handful of evening caucuses that were held to allow observant Jews to participate.

Nevada is considered almost home turf for Mr. Romney, who is Mormon. Roughly one-quarter of Republican caucusgoers were Mormon, according to entrance polls, and the state shares a border with Utah, where Mr. Romney won credit for saving the troubled 2002 Winter Olympics. But Nevada’s results may say little about the political terrain nationally, since far fewer caucusgoers appeared to have turned out than the number of Republicans who did so at the Iowa caucuses last month.

Mr. Romney was hoping that a strong victory in Nevada, four days after a commanding finish in the Florida primary, would strengthen his hand among Republicans who remain skeptical of his candidacy and his conservative foundation.

And there were some encouraging signs for him in polls of Nevadans entering caucus sites on Saturday, conducted by Edison Research for the National Election Pool of television networks and The Associated Press.

He won with a broad coalition of voters that included groups that he has struggled with in previous contests, including very conservative voters, strong Tea Partysupporters and evangelical Christians.

The state has the largest share of voters who call themselves strong Tea Party supporters of any of the states that have participated in the Republican nominating contest so far. These voters are considered a vital part of Mr. Gingrich’s coalition, yet Mr. Romney won a higher percentage of them than did Mr. Gingrich, according to the entrance poll.

More than 4 in 10 of the caucusgoers surveyed on Saturday said the quality that mattered most to them in a candidate was his ability to beat Mr. Obama in the fall; nearly three-quarters of those voters said they backed Mr. Romney.

The top issue on the minds of caucusgoers on Saturday was the economy, and 6 in 10 of those who listed it as their leading concern voted for Mr. Romney, potentially bolstering him in his argument that his experience as a businessman makes him the best candidate to improve the employment rate quickly. He was supported by almost half of those who said the federal deficit was their biggest concern. Mr. Paul was supported by a quarter of them. (Mr. Gingrich drew support from a fifth of those voters.)

Mr. Paul began building his organization in Nevada early. But he made it clear on Saturday that he was more focused on drawing attention to the issues of limited government, limited deficits and a restrained military than on winning.

Before there was any indication on Saturday of how he would fare in the race for second place, he addressed a boisterous crowd of supporters in Minnesota, which holds its contest on Tuesday, with a trademark speech. “Something pretty big is happening in this country,” he said, portraying the support he did win in Nevada as a vote for “less government, less war and a free market economy.”

Like Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Paul has said he intends to keep competing through the entire Republican nominating process in an effort to acquire delegates — awarded in more than half the states on a basis that is generally proportional to the share of the vote each candidate wins — and to have a voice at the convention.

Mr. Paul has largely shied away from directly criticizing Mr. Romney, and his aides have indicated that his continued campaign is far less bothersome to them than Mr. Gingrich’s.

With Mr. Romney heading into much friendlier political territory over the next month, a big question hanging over the campaigns is whether Mr. Gingrich will be able to revive his chances.

Mr. Gingrich was pinning his hopes on strong showings in the later contests, including in his home state of Georgia. But history has shown that it hard to recover from a series of losses.

Yet Mr. Romney, for all of his momentum, may be unable to swiftly lock down the nomination, given that he needs to win 1,144 delegates; even after Saturday he had yet to get one-tenth of the way there.

The next phase of the Republican nominating fight presents Mr. Romney an opportunity to test his message in several states that will be pivotal battlegrounds in the general election. He is poised to expand upon his economic proposals in the coming weeks, aides said, as the contest rolls through Colorado, Minnesota, Michigan and Arizona, all of which Mr. Obama is trying to win.

The most disappointing showing on Saturday went to former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who was in fourth place and has failed to show much electoral strength in recent weeks.


Reporting was contributed by Ashley Parker in Las Vegas, and Marjorie Connelly, David R. Jones, Allison Kopicki and Dalia Sussman in New York.


The Bottom Line: Gingrich + Santorum + Ron Paul hold the Majority. If Santorum decides to leave the fight in favor of Newt Gingrich the continuing fight is even between Gingrich and Romney with Ron Paul in the king-maker’s position by May 2012.

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