Billionaire Adelson To Pull the Plug on Gingrich
Policy + Politics

Billionaire Adelson To Pull the Plug on Gingrich

REUTERS/Tami Chappell

Maybe now we know why Newt Gingrich started charging supporters who want a picture of the former House speaker.

Gingrich revealed earlier this week that he was all but abandoning traditional campaigning around the country. Instead, he will use social media and phone calls to uncommitted GOP national delegates to try to stay in the game until the August GOP convention in Tampa. Oh, and by the way, the few supporters still eager to pose with him for a photo now must pay $50 per pose. His campaign is $1.6 million in debt.

Now we learn that Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino mogul who along with his wife has pumped more than $15 million into Gingrich’s Super PAC “Winning Our Future’” may be getting ready to pull the plug on funding for Gingrich’s near moribund campaign. Adelson said on Monday that he believes his good friend Gingrich is “at the end of his line” in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a report by the Jewish Journal website. 

Adelson conceded that Gingrich, a long time friend who shares his hawkish views on defending Israel, mathematically “can't get anywhere near” the 1,144 delegates he would need to win the nomination and  that there is virtually no chance that Gingrich would prevail in a brokered convention. Gingrich has a mere 135 delegates, to 568 for Romney and 273 for former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum.

The casino magnate, sporting a button that read “Obama…Oy Vey,” visited a TribeFest session focused on the potential 2012 Jewish vote. As he exited the session, about a dozen participants followed Adelson into the hallway. Adelson reportedly is on good terms with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, the clear frontrunner in the race, yet took a pot shot at both Romney and Santorum, according to the report.

“I know Rick. I like him. We’re friendly. But I got to tell you something, I don’t want him running my country,” Adelson reportedly said. And as for Romney, the former governor and businessman “is not the bold decision maker like Newt Gingrich is.”

Adelson has been Gingrich's most prominent backer this campaign. He donated $7.7 million to the political action committee that helped launch Gingrich's campaign, and he and his family have given some $16.5 million to the pro-Gingrich super PAC, a total that accounts for nearly 90 percent of Winning Our Future's total contributions.

With or without Adelson’s money, Gingrich insists he is in the race to stay, despite his distant third place in the campaign and only two primary victories to point to – in South Carolina and his home state of Georgia. The candidate has replaced his campaign manager, laid off close to a third of his staff, and has sharply curtailed his schedule. His communications chief told POLITICO that the campaign is switching focus to winning a "big-choice convention in August."

If Mitt Romney can't secure the necessary 1,144 delegates by the final primaries, "he will be unable to do so at the convention, where the vast majority of the delegates are conservative,” the spokesman said.