J.J. Goldberg

A GOP Plan to Save the Jews: Buy White House

By J.J. Goldberg

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Miriam and Sheldon Adelson address Shimon Peres’s Israel Presidential Conference, Jerusalem, May 2008 / Getty Images

Amid mounting alarm that anti-Semitism is on the rise in key spots around the globe — and fears that Israel could be a prime target — a prominent Republican group has come up with a unique approach to fighting back: gather a bunch of Jewish zillionaires at a casino in Las Vegas, announce plans to buy the White House in 2016 and invite leading politicians to come, hat in hand, and beg for permission to be the candidate.

That, roughly speaking, is the picture that emerges from today’s Washington Post report on next weekend’s spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, or as insiders reportedly, call it, in deference to the lead role played by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, “the Sheldon Primary.”

Here’s how the Post describes it:

Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife plowed more than $92 million into efforts to help mostly losing candidates in the 2012 elections, is undertaking a new strategy for 2016 — to tap his fortune on behalf of a more mainstream Republican with a clear shot to win the White House, according to people familiar with his thinking.

In 2012, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson spent so much of their money on long-shot candidate Newt Gingrich that they helped extend an ugly intraparty fight that left the eventual nominee, Mitt Romney, severely bruised by the time he faced President Obama in the general election.

This time, the Adelsons are plotting their investments based not on personal loyalty, but on a much more strategic aim: to help select a Republican nominee they believe will have broad appeal to an increasingly diverse national electorate.

This strategy would favor more established 2016 hopefuls such as former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. All four will descend this week on Adelson’s luxury hotel in Las Vegas, the Venetian, for an important step in what some are calling the “Sheldon Primary.”

Officially, the potential 2016 candidates will be at the Venetian for the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which begins Thursday with a golf outing followed by a VIP dinner featuring Bush and hosted by the Adelsons in the private airplane hangar where Adelson keeps his fleet. …

Most of the prospective candidates have made a point of reaching out to Adelson with phone calls and personal visits when they come through town. The conversations are not overt pitches for financial backing yet, but rather solicitations of Adelson’s thoughts on the economy and Israel as well as strategy for the 2014 midterm elections, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

Adelson, who is worth an estimated $37.9 billion, according to Bloomberg, is a staunch supporter of Israel. Adelson has expressed little interest in some of the social issues that motivate the GOP base. But he is driven by what he has said he sees as Obama’s socialist agenda. He is a fierce opponent of organized labor and is currently embroiled in a fight to ban online gambling. …

Adelson will not be the only major bundler for prospective candidates to visit with in Las Vegas. The RJC board also includes private-equity executive Lewis Eisenberg; hedge fund founder Paul Singer; Washington insider and lobbyist Wayne Berman; former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman; and former ambassadors Sam Fox and Mel Sembler.

Now, before you go accusing the Post (or me) of spreading anti-Semitic stereotypes, consider what the word means. Merriam-Webster defines “stereotype” as “an often unfair and untrue belief.” The World English Dictionary calls it “a set of inaccurate, simplistic generalizations.” Cardwell’s 1996 Dictionary of Psychology defines it rather more broadly as “a fixed, over generalized belief.” Nobody’s definition seems to include a straightforward recitation of facts that one would prefer remain hidden. That probably falls under the category of “a no-no.”


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