The Sheldon Adelson primary is already underway. As Republican presidential hopefuls prepare to meet with Adelson at an exclusive gathering in Las Vegas this week, The Washington Post is out with a telling report.
The billionaire mogul and casino magnate who spent more than $92 million on losing president candidates in 2012 intends to put his money behind the Republican with the clearest shot at winning the White House in 2016, according to people familiar with his thinking. (Adelson almost single-handedly kept Newt Gingrich alive during the 2012 Republican primaries before going on to back another loser, Mitt Romney.)
“The bar for support is going to much higher,” Andy Abboud, a top political adviser to Adelson and executive at Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp., told The Post. “There’s going to be a lot more scrutiny.”
While Adelson has said that his decision will be governed by electability, there is one pet issue of his that stands above all the rest: his push to kill online gambling.
Adelson has already found champions for the leglislative effort in GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Sen. Lindsey Graham. Graham is expected to introduce a Senate bill later this week restoring the pre-2011 federal ban on Internet gaming; Chaffetz will introduce a companion measure in the House.
The optics aren’t particularly good.
While Chaffetz has long expressed skepticism about online poker, Graham has been silent on the issue until now. The latter’s interest coincides with a cash infusion from Adelson, who dropped more than $15,000 on his 2014 bid to earn reelection, as National Journal reported last week. While Graham’s Senate campaign isn’t thought to be in any real danger, prudent political alliances could be part of the reason he’s survived on the Hill as long as he has.
Presidential hopeful Rick Perry (R) has also joined the fun, calling for a “time-out” for internet gambling in a letter to Congressional leadership and leadership of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees on Monday. Perry received funding from Adelson during his gubernatorial campaign in 2007.
Meanwhile, Adelson has hired former Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln to help him with the push.
There’s no question that Adelson is willing to spend millions to stop Internet gambling, the existence of which he feels threatens his brick-and-mortar business. And given the tens of millions he spent in 2012, GOP presidential contenders will be hard put to ignore him.
So will those pressures help turn every GOP presidential contender against Internet poker? We’ll see.
What We're Following See More »
Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”
Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.
Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.
Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”