Sheldon Adelson gave a Super PAC backing Newt Gingrich $5 million, the Washington Post reports tonight.
The question is why now, given the casino magnate’s earlier denials that he would invest heavily in Gingrich.
The Associated Press chases it up, and gets the same story. Both tips are anonymous. The Post says another as much as another $5 million may be in the works for Gingrich, depending on how he performs.
There’s been a lot of back and forth in recent weeks over whether Adelson is ready to turn his considerable clout toward Gingrich.
Adelson, who backs a plethora of pro-Israel causes, has for months stayed out of the fray, except for donating the maximum $2,500 to Gingrich in August. His wife also donated $2,500.
His friendship with Gingrich dates back to the 1990s.
Now, the spin hinted at in the Post story — and which I’ve seen put more bluntly on Twitter tonight — is that Gingrich’s Super PAC needs the cash to go after Mitt Romney (perhaps in South Carolina) the way that Romney’s proxies helped push Gingrich back to fourth place in Iowa.
Gingrich left little doubt in his Iowa concession speech that he had little love for the former Massachusetts governor.
Maybe — but here’s a different spin. (Adelson ain’t talking, so all we’ve got is speculation, and what follows is nothing more than my own.)
The surprise story of tonight’s New Hampshire debate is that Gingrich avoided Romney’s jugular. The prediction was that Gingrich’s id would preclude sensible thinking and torpedo the general election by bringing Romney down so far that he could never best Obama in the general.
Instead, Gingrich’s ire was reserved mostly for Ron Paul.
The predictions, though, never made too much sense — Gingrich has an ego, yes, but his overriding theme has been that the GOP needs to unite to best Obama.
Couple that appeal with a $5 million gift and another $5 million incentive from Adelson, a powerbroker who is determined that Obama leaves office, and it sounds like Gingrich’s Iowa speech was more outburst than strategy.
Adelson is a smart businessman: Giving money to a cause that will bring his overall GOP investment down in flames doesn’t sound right.
Prodding an old friend, on the other hand, to behave himself, while at the same time keeping same friend in the race to nudge Romney ever rightwards on Israel and Iran — that makes more sense, no?