Forward Thinking

Sheldon's Back

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Sheldon Adelson

Remember Sheldon Adelson? Well, he’s back.

The Las Vegas casino billionaire was the biggest backer of Newt Gingrich’s failed presidential run, dumping a total of $21 million into a pro-Gingrich super PAC. Gingrich’s campaign is history now, but Adelson’s checkbook is very much in play, thanks in part to his hugely successful gambling developments in Macao.

Politico shed some light on the future of Adelson’s political giving this morning in a story that cites three possible recipients. Politico reports that Adelson met with Romney last week, and that Adelson is considering a major gift to Restore Our Future, the pro-Romney super PAC that’s already raised $56 million. Karl Rove is also reported to be seeking Adelson’s backing for his $29 million super PAC called American Crossroads. Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and GOP consultant Arthur Finkelstein have met with Adelson about funding a Republican super PAC focused on Senate races.

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Adelson: Gingrich Is at the 'End of His Line'

By Gabrielle Birkner

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, whose family has given a “Super PAC” backing Newt Gingrich’s candidacy some $15 million, told the Jewish Journal, of Los Angeles, that the former House Speaker is “at the end of his line.”

Reading between the lines, it seems that Adelson might be ready to throw his (very reluctant) support behind Mitt Romney, whom the Las Vegas Sands chief executive said he “has spoken to many, many, many times, as recently as when he was here in Vegas for the caucuses.” Whether or not he’ll kick down millions for the former Massachusetts governor ‘s cause may be a different story.

That’s because he said Romney is “not the bold decision-maker like Newt Gingrich is,” and said he is risk-averse, “like Obama. “

But his criticism did not preclude some form of future support, as his remarks about Rick Santorum seemed to. Adelson said unequivocally that he doesn’t want Santorum “running my country,” and that the former Pennsylvania senator was too socially conservative for his taste.

“I’m what you might call a social liberal,” the billionaire businessman said.

Though Adelson, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has long been betting on Gingrich — whom he said isn’t afraid to use words like ‘Islamo-fascism’ or ‘Islamo-terrorists’ when that’s what they are” — he acknowledged that the former House Speaker, “mathematically can’t get anywhere near his numbers, and there’s unlikely to be a brokered convention.”

(Video Below)

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sheldon Adelson, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney

Romney Gains Edge in Testy GOP Debate

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Mitt Romney

In a Republican primary debate marked by palpable tension between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, the two leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination were united on one issue: a hard line on Iran.

They nodded agreement with one another as they laid out harsh critiques of President Obama’s policy, and promised a much tougher stance against the Islamic Republic.

It was a rare moment of comity between the men, who entered the February 22 debate neck and neck, according to some metrics, with just a week to go before key primaries in Arizona and Michigan next week.

Victories by Santorum in those contests, and particularly in Michigan, would amount to a serious blow to Romney. But observers said that Santorum was outperformed by Romney in the Mesa, Arizona debate and that the former Pennsylvania senator blew a chance to consolidate his lead.

“Rick Santorum had a chance coming into this debate to really solidify himself as the true non-Romney candidate… I think he missed that opportunity,” said Geoff Skelley, an analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics. “I would think this [outcome will] help Romney in Michigan and Arizona.”

Skelley noted that the reactions of the strongly pro-Romney crowd may have colored the debate’s reception.

Though Romney has won twice as many Republican delegates as Santorum, polls show a decidedly murky race. Romney is leading in Arizona, but the pair are roughly tied in Michigan. In national polls, Santorum leads Romney by a solid margin, after his sweep of three Midwestern contests earlier in the month, although the volatile race has seen several short-lived frontrunners.

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The March to AIPAC

By Nathan Guttman

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Last year’s conference

It is still more than a week away, but AIPAC’s annual policy conference is already creating a buzz in the political world. Every year organizers promise this will be the biggest pro-Israel gathering ever, but this time around the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has really outdone itself, with 13,000 participants expected to take part at the three-day parley opening on March 4. Headlining the event will be President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel’s president Shimon Peres and the Republican presidential candidates, not to mention congressional leaders and just about anyone who has anything to do with Israel, politics and policy.

But with success come a few headaches.

First, for Republican candidates. The AIPAC conference is taking place just before Super Tuesday on March 6, when ten states hold primary elections. So what is a candidate to do? Fly back to Washington and give up valuable campaigning time in the voting states? Or perhaps skip the AIPAC conference and focus on the voters? It is a tough decision that all three leading candidates (Ron Paul does not seem to be relevant for the AIPAC crowd) need to make. Speaking at the conference can make some political sense, since it is a great venue to show off pro-Israel credentials and to deliver some punches at the Obama administration. On the other hand, staying on the ground in the states that are voting the next day could be a sounder decision, given the high stakes involved. Newt Gingrich already decided to make the trip to Washington. No word yet from Romney and Santorum.

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Mogul's $10m Newt Ploy: Stop Santorum, Aid Mitt

By J.J. Goldberg

Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas gaming billionaire, is reported to be on the verge of donating another $10 million to the pro-Newt Gingrich super-PAC Winning Our Future, which should give some new steam to Gingrich’s fading hopes of winning the Republican nomination.

But not that much. According to a Wall Street Journal report (subscribers only; check out The Hill’s useful summary here), Adelson doesn’t particularly expect Gingrich to win. He wants to keep the former House speaker going in order to split up Rick Santorum’s social conservative base and smooth the path for Mitt Romney, who Adelson considers more electable in November.

Much has been written about Adelson’s devotion to Gingrich and their shared friendship with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Less noticed is the billionaire’s deep opposition to President Obama (see here, for example). Sources who know Adelson personally say it is an unhidden and deeply felt loathing, and that the White House is keenly aware and takes it seriously.

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More Adelson Cash Flows to Gingrich

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Sheldon Adelson

The eyebrow-raising $10 million in donations to a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC from billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam, isn’t the only Adelson money flowing into the Gingrich cause.

Federal filings on Tuesday revealed an additional $1 million in donations to Winning Our Future, the pro-Gingrich super PAC, from members of the Adelson family.

That additional seven figure infusion came in three parts, all on the same day in late December. Two of the donors were Oren and Yasmin Lukatz, the son-in-law and daughter of Miriam Adelson, Sheldon’s wife. Yasmin Lukatz is an executive at Las Vegas Sands, Sheldon Adelson’s casino corporation.

The third Adelson family donor was Sivan Ochshorn, another of Miriam Adelson’s daughters.

Miriam and Sheldon Adelson’s own reported gifts, totaling $10 million, were made in January, and were not included in the latest filings.

Winning Our Future has spent millions on ads opposing Mitt Romney, including the high-profile attack on his past at the private equity firm Bain Capital.

And though the heavy spending has arguably kept Gingrich’s presidential hopes alive in recent weeks, the candidate has a long road ahead. Upcoming GOP primaries and caucuses in Nevada, Arizona, and Michigan will favor Romney.

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Newt Faces Tough Road Ahead

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich is in for a tough few weeks.

Following a decisive loss to Mitt Romney in Florida, Gingrich will move through a number of contests that appear to favor Romney before Super Tuesday, on March 6, analysts say.

Next up for the Republicans is Nevada, which will hold its caucuses on February 4. Romney won the Nevada caucuses easily in 2008 and has led in polling there this year.

Romney, who is Mormon, will get a boost from the state’s large Mormon population - 26% of 2008 GOP caucus-goers were Mormon in Nevada. Jews make up 2.8% of the Nevada population; 2% of Republican caucus-goers described themselves as Jewish in 2008.

Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam, who have given a combined $10 million to a Super PAC that supports Gingrich, are based in Nevada. Adelson has been a major supporter of the Las Vegas Jewish community, and a special evening caucus will be held for Jewish voters at a Jewish school that bears his name.

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Who the !?@# Is Saul Alinsky?!

By Gal Beckerman

“Republicans have created this completely fictional president. His name is Barack X. And he is an Islamo-Socialist-Revolutionary who is coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries, and taking his cues from Europe, or worse yet…Saul Alinsky!”

— Bill Maher

(note: contains explicit language; in other words, this is HBO and that !?@# isn’t bleeped out)

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Gingrich’s Anti-Semitic Dog Whistle: Saul Alinsky

By Gal Beckerman

Saul Alinsky

When Newt Gingrich is called out for using the phrase “food stamp president,” he fiercely defends the idea that he is simply pointing out the obvious: that under Obama more people signed up for food stamps. Simple as that. He is not gently plucking racist tropes for the benefit of his base, but just telling it like it is. The man has plausible deniability. He can wink and then say he was just blinking.

So I’m sure that will be the case when I bring up Gingrich’s fondness for mentioning a certain Saul Alinsky. The former speaker is just stating a fact.

And boy does he bring Alinsky up. I’ve heard Alinsky’s name mentioned by Gingrich in a handful of debates, usually by way of characterizing the president, as in Obama is a “Saul Alinsky radical” or “the centerpiece of this campaign, I believe, is American exceptionalism versus the radicalism of Saul Alinsky.” But what really struck me was the number of times Gingrich brought up Alinsky in his victory speech when he won the South Carolina primary: three.

Now if you aren’t in that subsection of the “east coast liberal elite” that is closely following every twist and turn of this primary season, you might be asking yourself at this point, “Who the hell is Saul Alinsky?”

I’m willing to bet that has been the reaction of the vast majority of Americans, even for those who have really been tuning in to this race.

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Now We've Got a Contest

By Gal Beckerman

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Sheldon Adelson

So tonight I stand corrected. After New Hampshire I was sure that Mitt had this all wrapped up and that’s what I wrote here. But tonight I know I was wrong.

I didn’t take into account the Sheldon Adelson factor.

Five million dollars from Newt Gingrich’s buddy has given the former speaker yet another life in this contest. This wasn’t the only reason, of course. It helped him that Romney fumbled badly in handling questions about his wealth — dismissing as “not very much” his speaking fees that alone put him in the 1% and acting sketchy when questioned about his tax returns. It made him seem like a bad candidate for arguing that he was the real defender of all Americans in an eventual match up with Obama. At the same time, Newt used those debates to his advantage and did what he does best — condescend to everyone and at the same time declare himself persecuted. It’s straight out of the Nixon playbook, with an added dash of Newt’s fierceness.

Now this race is going to get interesting. And, more importantly, the Jews are back in play!

With the early date of the Florida primary this year it’s the first chance that a large population of Jews will have their say as a community about the Republican contest — though, it should be said, as everywhere in the country, it is a minority of Jews who register Republican to begin with. So here are a few questions that occur to me tonight…

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Can Newt Take Surge to Jewish Vote in Florida?

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich’s big win in the South Carolina Republican primary raises the stakes even higher in Florida, the first race in which the Jewish vote will be a significant factor.

“This makes it a two-man race in Florida,” said Steven Abrams, the Gingrich campaign’s chairman for Florida’s Palm Beach County and an elected county commissioner. “There’s a lot more upside potential in Newt. We’re organized in every [Florida] county. The volunteers are very fervent.”

The latest Florida polls showed Romney leading Gingrich by between 15% and 24%. Romney holds big advantages in Florida, where his TV ads have been up for weeks and as many as a quarter of the voters have already cast ballots in early voting.

But Gingrich backers in Florida say the contest has completely changed after South Carolina.

Florida will mark the first primary state with a large number of Jewish voters. Although most of the state’s more than half a million Jews are Democrats, 2008 exit polls showed that 3% of Florida Republican primary voters were Jewish. Only a handful of South Carolina Republican primary voters are Jews.

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Perry Drops Out, Boosts Newt's New Surge

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Texas Gov. Rick Perry has dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, throwing his support to Newt Gingrich.

Perry, who was trailing the rest of the Republican field in national and South Carolina polls, received less than 1% of the vote in the January 10 New Hampshire primary. But Perry did pull about 5% in South Carolina polls and, perhaps more importantly, was seen as dividing the social conservative vote that is steadfastly opposed to frontrunner Mitt Romney.

“I believe Newt is a conservative visionary who can transform this country,” Perry said.

Perry’s exit still leaves Republicans with two conservative alternatives to Romney: former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich was already closing in on Romney in South Carolina in several polls before Perry’s announcement and maintains a strong lead over. South Carolina’s primary is scheduled for Saturday, January 21.

“It’s helpful to Gingrich,” said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, of Perry’s decision. “Perry didn’t have much support, although I do think that in the last few debates Perry became sort of a more likeable, endearing figure, even if that didn’t translate into political support.”

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Looks Like It's Mitt

By Gal Beckerman

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So if there was one overwhelming message out of New Hampshire tonight — after watching the 2nd and 3rd and 4th and 5th runners up pathetically grasping to put a positive spin on their losses (Huntsman: “Third place is a ticket to ride!”) — it was that Mitt Romney is looking pretty inevitable.

You’ll hear that from everyone this evening. And I don’t really have anything new to add to this blindingly obvious reality.

That being said, it looks like South Carolina is set to play the role it has in primaries past — as the very last stand. Gingrich is going to continue his Sheldon Adelson-fueled attacks on Romney over his years at Bain Capital; Santorum will try to stick a fork in Perry and become the social conservative candidate going forward; Paul will continues collecting his delegates so that he can imprint his message on the party’s platform.

But from the vantage point of tonight, Romney looks set to keep rolling along. And from our narrowly parochial view of things here, that means one thing for the Jews: By Florida, your grandparents’ vote won’t really matter.

By the time Jews get to weigh in as a community — though, admittedly, that elderly, reflexively pro-Israel part of the community that is assumed to be mad at Obama — it looks like it will all be wrapped up for Mr. Inevitability.

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Adelson Ponies Up for Pro-Gingrich Effort: Reports

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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Sheldon Adelson

Casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has donated $5 million to a super political action committee that supports Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, the Washington Post reported.

The donation to the Super PAC Winning Our Future could be part of a conservative effort to level the playing field as the GOP campaign moves to South Carolina and Florida later this month. Pro-Mitt Romney Super PACs flooded the airwaves with ads in Iowa, helping the former Massachusetts governor eke out a narrow win.

As the Forward reported in December, Adelson has been a major Gingrich supporter for decades. Best known as a donor to Jewish and conservative causes, Adelson ranked eighth on Forbes’s 2011 list of the wealthiest Americans.

The pro-Gingrich Winning Our Future has yet to report the Adelson donation. The $5 million donation, which the New York Times also reported came from Adelson, could have a significant impact on the Super PAC’s role in upcoming primaries. Winning our Future spent only $1.2 million in support of Gingrich as of January 2, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, whereas the pro-Romney Restore our Future has spent $4.4 million opposing Gingrich.

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That 'Invented People'? The Idea Is Invented

By J.J. Goldberg

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Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich’s December 9 Declaration of Palestinian Inventedness (“we’ve had an invented Palestinian people, who are in fact Arabs”) caused a bit of a stir at the Saturday night GOP debate.

Both Mitt Romney and Ron Paul condemned the remark as, in Paul’s words, “just stirrin’ up trouble.” Interestingly, though, both agreed that Gingrich’s point was historically accurate. No one on stage disagreed.

Responding to the charge of troublemaking, Newt doubled down, adding some historical detail to show that the “Palestinian claim to a right of return is based on a historically false story.”

Somebody ought to have the courage to go all the way back to the 1921 League of Nations mandate for a Jewish homeland, point out the context in which Israel came into existence, and ‘Palestinian’ did not become a common term until after 1977.

Let’s take the professor at his word and go back to the League of Nations mandate. What do we find? First, that it’s from 1922, not 1921. Second, it’s not a “mandate for a Jewish homeland.” It is titled “Mandate for Palestine.” The difference is critical. The purpose of a mandate, as defined in the 1919 Covenant of the League of Nations, Article 22, was to govern territories formerly controlled by other states (mainly meaning the losers in World War I) and prepare them for independence. One of the conditions of the Palestine mandate was to help prepare a Jewish national home in Palestine (nothing about Palestine as a whole being a Jewish home). The mandate defines “all the inhabitants of Palestine, irrespective of race and religion,” as “citizens” (the mandate’s language) of Palestine, which in turn is defined in the league covenant as a state-in-the-making. In other words, from August 12, 1922, Palestine was a political entity in international law, not just a geographic one, and its inhabitants were legally defined — and universally described—as “Palestinians.” Some were known as Palestinian Jews, some as Palestinian Arabs. The term was in general use long before 1977.

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Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: United Nations, Syria, Resolution 181, Partition Plan, Palestinians, Palestine Liberation Organization, Palestine National Council, Newt Gingrich, League of Nations, Mandate, Jordan, Invented People, Egypt, Covenant, Arab League, Algiers Declaration




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