Christie Steps in It

So Chris Christie went to Las Vegas to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition and suck up to Sheldon Adelson, the biggest GOP donor in 2012.

It didn’t go well.  We’re talking Amateur Hour at the Bijou.  Adelson’s biggest cause is Israel, and Christie committed a shocking faux pas by referencing Israel’s “occupied territories” in his speech.  There was an audible gasp, people.  The politically correct term for the RJC and Adelson (and Christian Evangelicals who love them some Israel so Jesus will come back and send all the Jews to Hell and them to Heaven) is “disputed territories.”  Even Sarah Palin knows that, it’s probably written on one of her hands.  Christie could have just said the West Bank, and not gotten himself into trouble.

But to get Adelson to open his checkbook, Christie should have said the magic words “Judea and Samaria.”

The Great GOP Unraveling

No sooner was John McCain faced with Jeb Bush’s challenge on immigration from his right, as Jeb did an about-face on his past support for a path to citizenship, when he had to pivot and face Rand Paul’s challenge on drone policy from his left, as Paul filibustered John Brennan’s CIA nomination because he feared Obama was about to launch drone strikes on Americans sitting in cafes in San Francisco.

Today, McCain called Paul a “wacko bird,” along with his pals Ted Cruz and Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan.

Now you can say that John McCain is 76 and on his way out, but remember that his little sidekick Lindsey “Butters” Graham is 57, and their new amiga, Kelly Ayotte, who replaced Joe Lieberman, is only 44.

This isn’t a John McCain problem, this is a GOP problem.

The libertarian wing of the Republican Party has now latched on to the Tea Party element, strengthening both.  Paul and Cruz are both Tea Party guys and libertarians.

The GOP has taken up the Tea Party cry to cut government spending, while trying to protect defense spending.  But the Tea Party/libertarian types don’t want to spare defense any more than they want to spare social programs.  They want to cut the whole damn thing, which makes it impossible for them to co-exist with the neo-cons.

Interestingly, neither McCain nor Paul reflects where the country is.  Since we’re war weary, we’re not with McCain that we should have stayed longer in Iraq and should stay in Afghanistan forever.  But since we’re war weary, we like the drones, which keep the terrorists at bay, while allowing our guys to go safely home at night to their families after they’ve taken out a bad guy.  And while Rand Paul isn’t as extreme on foreign policy as his dad Ron, his lack of concern about Iran’s going nuclear isn’t where the country is either.  So in Goldilocks terms, neither McCain nor Paul is just right for the country, one is too hard and the other is too soft.  If the country is sick of the neo-cons, they don’t want them replaced by neo-isolationists.

Adding to the mix — and the mess — you’ve got the primaries of 2014 and 2016.  Immigration and drones are two very different issues, but having gotten blindsided by Jebbie, Marco Rubio felt he had to support Paul on the filibuster to placate the Tea Party people he will need for a 2016 run.  Similarly, Mitch McConnell felt compelled to praise Paul because he fears a Tea Party primary in 2014.

Then there’s  the money.  The Koch Brothers are libertarians first and Republicans second.  Their financial support will redound to those who spout the libertarian line.  By contrast, Sheldon Adelson, who basically bought Newtie a campaign in 2012, has said that he doesn’t care about gay marriage or abortion, he just cares about Israel.  So his money will go to those who toe the neo-con line.

The GOP is trying to accommodate some very strange bedfellows — and it looks as if no one will get a good night’s sleep anytime soon.

Karl Rove Does Social Welfare!

Politico has an excellent story up about the relationship between Steve Wynn and Karl Rove, “Rove hits big:  The birth of a mega-donor,” by Ken Vogel and Steve Friess.  Some excerpts:

“Simply put:  any person, corporation or union can spend as much as they want to directly influence elections through hard-hitting television ads without anyone else knowing.  Republicans and their allies have had exceptional success exploiting this dynamic, which really took off after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision.

Unlike Super PACs, Crossroads GPS [one of Rove’s groups] is registered under a section of the tax code for so-called ‘social welfare’ groups — 501(c)4 — that does not require groups to reveal their donors’ names, only donation amounts.  The promise of anonymity is one of the main reasons GPS was established — it allows Wynn and like-minded contributors to avoid the controversy that has dogged top political donors like competing casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, as well as the libertarian industrialist Koch Brothers or the liberal financier George Soros.”

“Sources tell Politico that Wynn’s giving to Crossroads GPS dwarfs all the  publicly reported federal donations he’s ever made combined.”  Emphasis added.

Crossroads GPS does “social welfare” about as much and as well as I do nuclear physics.

Mitt Backer Calls Him Timid

I’m not a billionaire, but Sheldon Adelson and I do have something in common.  He and I both think that Mitt is weak.

Having poured $16.5 million down the rat hole that is the Gingrich campaign, Adelson is supporting Mitt, but in a very back-handed way:

“The problem with Romney — he’s not the bold decision maker like Newt Gingrich is.  Every time I talk to him he says, ‘Well, let  me think about it.’  Everything I’ve said to Mitt, ‘let me look into it.'”

Adelson went on to say that Mitt is “like Obama,” which isn’t helpful to the Romney campaign either, but I also think it’s unfair to Obama.

Newt Runs Out of ($2.50) Gas

With his campaign in the red, and his superPAC having run through Sheldon Adelson’s $16.5 million, Newt has fired his campaign manager, Michael Krull, and a third of his full-time staff.  He’s making Vince Haley campaign manager.  Haley was already both deputy campaign manager and a policy adviser, so kind of a two-fer.

Newt is also scaling back his travel to the remaining primary states.  He says he’ll get his message out through social media, videos, and the Internet.

Kind of like that other scary giant head, the Wizard of Oz.  But we already know what’s behind this curtain.

Adelson Not Giving Up on Newtie

Newt backer and billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson doesn’t seem to understand the concept of odds.  He, his wife, and kids have already wasted $11 million on Newtie’s Super PAC.

Now Adelson is said to be giving another $14 million, for a grand total of $25 million down the black hole that is Newt’s big mouth.

Um, Sheldon, you got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.

News from Newtland

The Donald is expected to endorse his alter ego in grandiosity and narcissism, Newt, tomorrow in Las Vegas.  Not sure there’s room on one stage for so much self-regard and self-delusion, but we’ll see.

Sheldon Adelson is said to be giving Newt’s Super PAC another $10 million on top of the $10 million he and his wife have previously donated.

So Trump will waste his breath and Adelson will waste his money on this lost cause.

The Cavalry Arrives for Newt

Newt’s billionaire pal Sheldon Adelson just committed another $5 million to Newt’s Super PAC, on top of the $5 million he gave before.

Given all the different media markets in Florida and how expensive it is to compete there, everyone was waiting to see if Adelson would come through.  There was some doubt because Adelson is said to harbor no ill will toward Mitt.

Newt desperately needed this money because Mitt has now spent over $9 million on radio and TV in Florida ($5 million from his campaign and $4 million from his Super PAC.


Huntsman’s Ticket Is to Utah, Not South Carolina

Jon Huntsman told his supporters in New Hampshire that he had a “ticket to ride,” but if he looks carefully, he’ll see that it goes to Utah, not South Carolina.

He started out with a three-state strategy of New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida.  He reduced that strategy to just New Hampshire and spent all his time and money there, doing the tough, traditional slog of retail politics.  He came in third, behind the other Mormon with nice hair and the whack job, and he’s done.

He’s polling in low single digits in both South Carolina and Florida, he has no organization there.  South Carolina is in 11 days, Florida in 21.

Huntsman would need his father to kick in the kind of money another billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, is kicking in for Newt.  But Jon Huntsman Sr. didn’t get as rich as he did by making bad investments.

Huntsman says he’s “in the hunt,” but if he is, he’s the poor thing running for his life away from the horses and the hounds.

A Little Newt and Mitt Inside Baseball

When Mitt ran his millions of Super PAC ads in Iowa, he thought he could do so with impunity because Newt didn’t have the money to fight back.  And Newt didn’t fight back in Iowa and lost badly.

There were rumors that Sheldon Adelson, Vegas billionaire and friend of Newt, was going to give $20 million to Newt’s Super PAC to go after Romney.  Then there were stories that someone connected to Romney who was also a friend of Adelson called him and was assured that wasn’t going to happen, that Adelson wasn’t giving anything, let alone $20 million.

Mittens breathed a sigh of relief.

But then Newtie prevailed on Adelson to give his Super PAC $5 million (and maybe more to come) to run ads in South Carolina going after Mitt’s “Vulture days” at Bain Capital.

Newt has said he got “Romney-boated” in Iowa.  Now Mitt is about to get “Newt-boated” in South Carolina.

Which makes it look more like smooth sailing for Obama.