Sheldon Adelson meets with Romney backers, says Newt Gingrich is ‘at the end of his line’
Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas casino mogul who has played a prime role in funding Newt Gingrich’s presidential ambitions, now thinks the former House speaker may be “at the end of his line” in the race for the GOP nod.
And not only is Adelson openly speculating about Gingrich’s political future, but he’s also been meeting with allies of former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
In remarks Monday to about a dozen people on the sidelines of the Jewish Federations of North America’s annual TribeFest conference in Las Vegas, Adelson said that when it comes to the GOP delegate race, the math is not in Gingrich’s favor.
“It appears as though he’s at the end of his line,” Adelson said of Gingrich. “Because, I mean, mathematically, he can’t get anywhere near the numbers, and it’s unlikely to be a brokered convention.”
Video of the remarks was published online Thursday by the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
The statement by Adelson is the latest sign of Gingrich’s dire straits in the Republican nominating contest. Earlier this week, news broke that Gingrich was dismissing one-third of his campaign staff and scaling back his schedule on the trail. The candidate has also begun charging $50 to supporters who wish to take a photo with him at events, National Journal reported.
Adelson and his relatives have spent more than $16 million funding the pro-Gingrich super PAC Winning the Future.
News of Adelson’s remarks follows a report that the casino mogul met privately last week with prominent Romney supporters and may be poised to contribute to a super PAC backing the former Massachusetts governor.
Reports Peter Stone of the Center for Public Integrity:
A private dinner March 22 at Adelson’s Las Vegas home drew the chairman of the Republican National Committee plus some of the GOP’s best-known fundraisers and donors. The diners were in Las Vegas early for a weekend summit of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy group that Adelson has backed heavily.
During the soiree, the Adelson family members privately sent strong signals to Romney allies that they’d donate millions of dollars, perhaps on par with their support for Gingrich, to a super PAC that has heavily supported the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign for the GOP presidential nomination - assuming that Gingrich eventually drops out. Gingrich is badly trailing and as of the end of February, his campaign was in debt.
The big-name attendees at Adelson’s dinner included Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, who now chairs a super PAC and a nonprofit group raising millions of dollars to help House Republican candidates. Coleman also serves on the board of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Also in attendance were Florida real estate magnate Mel Sembler, St. Louis investor Sam Fox and Washington lobbyist Wayne Berman. The three men are Republican Jewish Coalition board members; each has raised large amounts for Romney.
Coleman is a prominent Romney backer who is also a special adviser to the candidate’s campaign.
Romney himself met with Adelson in early February while campaigning in Nevada before the GOP caucuses, and Romney representatives have been in regular contact with Adelson for months; they had won the casino mogul’s assurances that he would make significant financial contributions to the campaign and a pro-Romney super PAC if Romney wins the nomination.
Gingrich has maintained that he will stay in the race until Romney earns the 1,144 delegates necessary to clinch the Republican nod. And at an event at Georgetown University Wednesday night, he defended his decision to stay in.
Still, the reports that Adelson may be poised to back Romney represent a significant blow to Gingrich’s White House ambitions.
A full transcript of Adelson’s remarks on the sidelines of the Las Vegas event earlier this week is below:
“Well, Rick Santorum is too social. Now, I’m what you might call a social liberal. But I mean, on the social issues – I’m not pro-life. I’m pro-choice. But if you’re in one party, you don’t have to believe 100 percent in everything that that party stands for. He doesn’t know – look. I’m in business. I’ve been in business 66 years. And who are the people that make decisions? Not people that vote as one out of 100. So there’s no background of his voting records. It doesn’t make a difference whether he voted for or against what 99 other guys voted for or against.”
“But you’ve got to – I’m a decision-maker – you’ve got to come up and make decisions. You’ve got to have the courage of your own convictions. And you have to be able to take some risks. This man has no history whatsoever of creating anything or of taking risks. Now, that having been said, I know Rick. I like him. We’re friendly. But I’ve gotta tell you something, I don’t want him to run my country.”
“Romney, again, the problem with Romney is – and I’ve talked to Romney many, many, many times, as recently as he was here in Vegas for the caucuses a few weeks ago – he’s not the bold decision-maker like Newt Gingrich is. He doesn’t want to – every time I talk to him – he says, ‘Well, let me think about it.’ Everything I’ve said to Mitt – ‘Let me look into it.’ He’s like Obama. He doesn’t want to put himself – when Obama was in the Illinois Senate, 186 times he voted ‘present.’ Because he didn’t want to establish a record for himself for either partisan or nonpartisan issues.”
“So, I’m in favor of ... I’m in favor of Newt Gingrich, because I like people who make decisions. He’s a decision-maker. You don’t have to worry about using the word ‘Islamofascism’ or ‘Islamoterrorist’ when that’s what they are. Not all Islamists are terrorists, but all the terrorists are Islamists.”
Q: “He’s probably not going to be the Republican candidate, though.”
“No, no. I know. It appears as though he’s at the end of his line. Because, I mean, mathematically he can’t get anywhere near the numbers, and it’s unlikely to be a brokered convention.”
Q: “Do you think he has a chance of being his vice-presidential nominee?”
“I would’ve said yes, because in the past I’ve talked to both him and Mitt about committing to each other to be vice president. Mitt says, well, he didn’t give me an answer. And Newt says, ‘Listen, I would do that except that every governor whose help you need to go through in the election is hoping he’ll be the vice president pick. So if I go into the contest with a vice president already picked, they’re not going to help me.”
Staff writer Philip Rucker also contributed to this story.