WASHINGTON (JTA) — Newt Gingrich, bowing out of the race for the Republican presidential nod, thanked Miriam and Sheldon Adelson for helping to sustain his campaign.
"We share a combined concern about the Middle East and a combined concern about American security and the survival of Israel," Gingrich, the former U.S. House of Representatives speaker, said Wednesday in remarks that effectively handed the GOP nomination to Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.
Gingrich held the lead in the first caucus state, Iowa, but a barrage of negative ads by pro-Romney SuperPACs — fundraising bodies not officially affiliated with a candidate — crippled Gingrich, who vowed retribution. He and his supporters would later run negative ads against Romney. Rick Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator who dropped out of the race last month, narrowly won in Iowa.
Gingrich recovered in substantial part because of $25 million funneled by the Adelsons to SuperPACs backing him, but ultimately could not catch up with Santorum or Romney.
"While they weren’t directly associated with the campaign, it would be impossible for me to be here and thank everybody without mentioning Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, who singlehandedly came pretty close to matching Romney’s SuperPAC," Gingrich said in his remarks.
Gingrich and Adelson have been friends since Gingrich’s term as House speaker in the mid-1990s, coming together because of shared thinking about Israel and skepticism of the motives of the Palestinians, along with a shared antipathy of labor unions. Adelson, a Las Vegas casino mogul, has clashed repeatedly with unions.
Adelson defended Gingrich when he drew criticism from Romney for saying the Palestinians were not a people.
Adelson reportedly has assured the Romney camp that he will now direct his efforts to backing the presumptive nominee.
Romney’s only remaining rival, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), has virtually no chance of challenging him in the delegate race.