When you think of “big-money Republican donors”, Sheldon Adelson is always at the top of the list.
The Las Vegas billionaire has a compelling story, growing up from nothing as the son of poor Jewish immigrant parents, to buying The Sands and building the Venetian — one of the most opulent casinos on the Strip. He’s worth $34 billion, with a “B”, entering rarefied air occupied by names like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.
Adelson is consistently vilified by the Left for his unwavering support of Republican candidates in recent years — most notably, propping up New Gingrich’s failing 2012 campaign to the tune of $15 million. He’s spoken of in the same negative terms as the Koch Brothers, who are incidentally not conservatives either, but that’s another story for another day.
Here’s what surprises most — Adelson isn’t a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. He’s famously said:
I didn’t leave the Democrats, the Democrats left me.
His main issue with the current Democratic Party are Israel and free enterprise. Adelson is a staunch supporter of Israel and distributes, for free, the most popular newspaper in the country. He’s even rumored to have such influence that he has Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lobbying Japan on his behalf to grant a first-of-its-kind gaming license in the country.
He’s also called for lowering taxes, relaxations of regulations, and a decrease in the power afforded to unions.
But that’s where Adelson’s conservative bona-fides hit a screeching halt.
Adelson also claimed that he was “basically a social liberal,” and that his views differed sharply from the Republican Party on a number of issues.
His social liberal views?
“I’m pro choice,” he pointed out. “You can take your own religious beliefs …and live your life with your own beliefs. But to make it a portion of the government’s policies?” Adelson also maintained “Abortion shouldn’t be brought up as a political issue,” he said.
Embyronic stem-cell research:
“Number one, I’m supporting stem-cell research.” As exemplified by the new Adelson medical research foundation that is funding some stem-cell based science.”
“I’m pro-Dream Act, I’m pro the Dream Act. My parents were immigrants to this country,” he said. “What are we going to do? Listen, I’m sure a lot of my parents generation ….. snuck onto the ship and they came into the country.”
“It would be inhumane to send those people back , to send 12 million people out of this country to disrupt a whole potpourri of family issues” over what happens to the children.
“I mean it’s all ridiculous. So we’ve got to find a way, find a route for those people to get legal citizenship,” he said.”
“If one goes to Israel, he said, one chooses among four or five HMO’s. “You go in there you get all your health care from cradle to grave.”
“When I learned about that [Israeli] system, to my own surprise I said, ‘Oh, I’m in favor of socialized medicine’– which is such a bad word here,” he said.”
Adelson’s support for these policies is not a surprise because he’s not a conservative — he’s at best an New-Deal-era Democrat. That includes his pro-Israel stance as well as the fact that Democrats during the New Deal were in favor of some regulation, but certainly not public sector unions, near-50% income taxes, or the onerous regulations current Democrats support.
Keep all this in mind as many 2016 hopefuls, from Rand Paul, to Ted Cruz, to Scott Walker, to Bobby Jindal, to Bob McDonnell, to Chris Christie, to Jeb Bush, to John Kasich, to Mike Huckabee, have all touched down on the Vegas sands to kiss Adelson’s ring in what former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer calls, “The Sheldon Adelson Primary”.