BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If Sheldon Adelson were an ordinary guy, some might say that he is spending like a drunken sailor. But Adelson is no ordinary guy. The billionaire right wing casino magnate who is committed to expending perhaps as much as $100 million on this presidential campaign, is, as he recently described it, merely putting his money where his mouth is. And both his money and his mouth are writ large over the Republican Party's campaign to win the presidency and grab total control of both houses of Congress.
After spending millions of dollars to just about single-handedly keep Newt Gingrich in the Republican Party's presidential race earlier this year, Adelson is now all in when it comes to funding Mitt Romney's campaign. What is the latest campaign incursion by the man who was worth $20.5 billion according to the most recent Forbes magazine list of The World's Billionaires (ranking #14 on that list and #12 on the Forbes 400)?
He is putting up the lion's share of a $6.5 million dollar war chest aimed at convincing Jewish voters in several swing states (most notably South Florida) to abandon Obama.
"Obama ... Oy Vey!!" says Florida Billboard
According to The New York Times the $6.5 million campaign that includes television advertisements, billboards, and voter lists, is part of a larger battle Republicans (most notably the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC)) wage annually to convince Jewish voters to abandon the Democratic Party. However, never before has the RJC been so well stocked with money.
The new campaign is called "My Buyer's Remorse," and among other things, features homemade videos of Jews who voted for Obama in 2008, and won't vote for him this time around. As of this writing, there are five such videos at the "My Buyer's Remorse" web site.
"In Florida, where the largest share of the $6.5 million is being spent," The New York Times recently reported that "one of the group's most visible messages is along Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike, including in Boca Raton and in Broward County, areas with large Jewish populations. A series of red-and-blue billboards lament: "Obama ... Oy Vey!!" Then ask, "Had enough?"
Although Florida's Jews make up only 3.4 percent of registered voters, they make up "as much as 8 percent of the electorate," the Times pointed out. "Working with research that microtargets Jewish voters who might choose ... Romney, the coalition dispatched hundreds of volunteers this month to South Florida and elsewhere to knock on thousands of doors; stuff mailboxes with brochures that exhort, 'We need a president that stands with Israel'; and make 55,000 phone calls," The Times reported. "It is also using high-profile Jewish Republicans, like Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush's press secretary, to talk to Jewish voters."
According to an American Jewish Committee press release, the most recent AJC national survey found that "Sixty-five percent support Obama, 24 percent support Romney, with 10 percent undecided. When asked preferences, the undecided split 63 percent for Obama and 27 percent for Romney."
The breakdown by denomination found "Orthodox Jews support Romney over Obama by 54 to 40 percent. Conservative Jews are 64 to 23 percent for Obama. Reform Jews are 68 to 23 percent for the incumbent. The "just Jewish" vote goes 68 to 19 percent for Obama."
Adelson's Legal Problems Driving Magnate's Campaign Spending
Adelson's munificence – he's spent nearly $70 million so far and plans to spend more by Election Day -- may have more to do with his legal situation than his love for Romney.
According to Politico's Mike Allen, "Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. is being scrutinized by federal investigators looking into possible money-laundering in Vegas, and possible violation of bribery laws by the company's ventures in China, including four casinos in the gambling mecca of Macau." Allen pointed out that "90 percent of the [Adelson] corporation's revenue" comes "from Asia, including properties in Macau and Singapore."
In an interview with Allen, the casino magnate "talked in detail about his top five reasons" for supporting Romney:
- "Self-defense: Adelson said a second Obama term would bring government 'vilification of people that were against him.' He thinks he would be at the top of that list and contends that he already has been targeted for his political activity."
- "Friends in high places: If Romney were elected, Adelson would have a powerful ally on the two issues he cares most about: the security and prosperity of Israel, and opposition to unions."
- "Loathes Obama: ... Adelson said he worries about 'any man that sets up a shadow government, not accountable to anybody. ... What are the czars, if they're not a substitute for the secretaries of Commerce, of State, of Interior? They're not under any rules, they're just consultants to him in his office. And then he'll come along and say, 'Well, Bush did it.' But that's not the way the government is supposed to be run.'"
- "Efficiency on the right: Adelson has played a previously unreported role that has helped maximize the outside groups' muscle. He has insisted that they coordinate their efforts, making the spending more efficient."
- "Empowering small business."
If Romney wins the presidency, Sheldon Adelson will likely get all that he's gunning for, and probably a whole lot more. If Obama wins, the Las Vegas and Macao gambling titan will still have no shortage of money to put where his mouth is.