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'Joe Kennedy helped his son,' Gingrich funder says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 27th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson who is bankrolling Newt Gingrich's super PAC to the tune of $10 million, says he isn't trying to "buy" a presidency. Adelson says he's just following in the footsteps of another powerful business tycoon, Joseph Kennedy, father of President John F. Kennedy.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Both Adelson and his wife's donation is the biggest cash infusion in the race for the White House. "I don't think it's buying a presidency any more than it was when Joe Kennedy helped his son," Sig Rogich, a veteran Republican operative who serves as Adelson's government affairs consultant says.

The 78-year-old Adelson has a personal fortune estimated at $21 billion, according to Rogich, "plays to win" and "puts his money where his mouth is."

Adelson and his Israeli-born wife Miriam have pumped $10 million in the last three weeks into the Winning Our Future Super PAC. The cash has provided crucial cash infusion that helped revive Gingrich's candidacy, bankrolling attack ads against Mitt Romney in South Carolina and now Florida.

The Adelsons are by far the largest known donors in a presidential race awash with money under new rules allowing unlimited donations to so-called super PACs.

But the contributions have also raised new questions about Adelson's outside role in influencing the campaign. Those questions could intensify as a result of potentially provocative comments he has made about Israel uncovered by NBC News.

Adelson owns a newspaper in Israel called the Israel HaYom that backs conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and adamantly opposes any peace settlement with the Palestinians.

Adelson and Gingrich are both in concert on the issue of a hawkish Mideast policy, especially over the threat of a nuclear Iran. However -- some of the casino mogul's comments could prove embarrassing.

In a talk to an Israeli group in July, 2010, Adelson said he wished he had served in the Israeli Army rather than the U.S. military. He also said that he hoped his young son would come back to Israel and "be a sniper for the IDF," a reference to the Israel Defense Forces.

"I am not Israeli. The uniform that I wore in the military, unfortunately, was not an Israeli uniform. It was an American uniform, although my wife was in the IDF and one of my daughters was in the IDF ... our two little boys, one of whom will be bar mitzvahed tomorrow, hopefully he'll come back-- his hobby is shooting -- and he'll come back and be a sniper for the IDF," Adelson said.

"All we care about is being good Zionists, being good citizens of Israel, because even though I am not Israeli born, Israel is in my heart," he said toward the end of his talk.

Rogich says of Adelson, "No one could possibly ever think that he is anything but a loyal American. He's shown that time and time again."

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