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Casino mogul fuels Gingrich’s offensive - Nation

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Casino mogul fuels Gingrich’s offensive - Nation

The financial lifeline for Newt Gingrich’s 11th-hour attack on his top rival comes from an old friend who climbed from poverty in Dorchester to become one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Sheldon Adelson, the son of a Boston cabdriver, made his millions as a casino mogul in Las Vegas and Macao, and $5 million of that wealth will help pay for ads and an online video that seek to halt Mitt Romney’s rise in South Carolina, where the contest moves after today’s New Hampshire primary.

The attack ads were produced by the super PAC called Winning our Future, which supports Gingrich, and will portray Romney as a corporate raider — “a vulture destroying jobs,’’ in the words of one PAC worker — during his years as head of Bain Capital, a private equity firm, in the 1980s and 1990s.

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The super PAC also purchased a 27-minute film called “When Mitt Romney Came to Town,’’ created by an ad maker who helped Romney’s 2008 presidential campaign and accuses Romney of “playing the system for a quick buck.’’ The trailer for the film, to be distributed on the Internet, quotes men and women blaming Romney for costing them their jobs after Bain investments.

Adelson’s efforts to help Gingrich stop Romney are not surprising. He has been a supporter and friend of Gingrich for well over two decades. They share a longstanding bond in their support for the security of Israel. Adelson, an avid and vigorous supporter of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his conservative Likud party, founded a conservative daily newspaper in Israel and contributes heavily to many charitable causes there.

A college dropout and former Democrat, Adelson became an enthusiastic supporter of Republican and conservative causes in the late 1980s. Between 2007 and last year, Adelson contributed at least $6 million to Gingrich’s political advocacy group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, which promoted domestic energy development, public education reform, and political engagement.

In the last three federal election cycles, Adelson, 78, and his wife, Miriam, a physician who specializes in treating substance abuse, have contributed nearly $700,000 to Republican candidates and committees, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Adelson, ranked by Forbes magazine in September as the eighth-wealthiest American with an estimated worth of $21.5 billion, launched his success from a modest neighborhood in Dorchester. In a rare television network interview in 2010, Adelson described his rise from poverty:

“In my mind, here’s a kid who comes from the slums, me,’’ he told ABC’s “Nightline.’’ “I came from a very poor family; there were six people, four children, and my parents, one bed in a room . . . and my parents were poor. When they died in 1985, 11 days apart, they didn’t have as much as $100 in the bank. Their whole life. They gave everything to their children. So I’m talking not from a white shoe background or from a privileged background. I’m talking [as] somebody who wore his skin down on his fingers trying to climb the ladder of success.’’

That climb has taken him to the top. Adelson now presides over the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which has lucrative casino and hotel-resort interests in Las Vegas; Bethlehem, Pa.; Macao, a former Portuguese colony that is now a “special administrative region’’ of China; and Singapore.

Along the way, he has had labor problems of his own. When the Venetian, a massive hotel-resort gaming complex, opened in Las Vegas in 1999, there were swarms of labor union pickets protesting that it did not have union workers.

Adelson, who lives in Las Vegas, still maintains a home in Newton and a corporate office in Needham.

Adelson’s investment in Gingrich’s campaign, via the Winning our Future PAC, will focus on what many see as Romney’s most vulnerable issue: his actions at Bain Capital, and whether investments there cost workers their jobs.

Romney has argued that Bain helped create at least 100,000 jobs, mostly through investments in Staples, Domino’s Pizza, and the Sports Authority. But the vast majority of those jobs were created long after Romney had left Bain in 1999, and the criticisms of Romney by Democrats and his Republican rivals focus on Bain’s leveraged buyouts of other companies, many of which filed for bankruptcy after being saddled with debt to finance the acquisitions.

The impending super PAC broadside at Romney is a response to that of a pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, that helped crush Gingrich in Iowa with an avalanche of negative ads. The advertising highlights Gingrich’s “baggage’’ — his ethics fine, his work for mortgage giant Freddie Mac, and his support for issues at odds with conservative orthodoxy. Gingrich, who finished a distant fourth in Iowa, excoriated Romney for not stopping the ads, which by law must be produced independently of any candidate or party.

Winning Our Future to date has spent $1.5 million promoting Gingrich, mostly in Iowa, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. A second pro-Gingrich super PAC, Strong America Now, spent about $125,000 in Iowa, some of it on negative mail and automated calls critical of Romney.

The point of the media effort that Adelson’s donation makes possible is to suggest that Romney’s public image is more positive than his record, said Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich spokesman who is now working for Winning our Future.

“Mitt Romney was a vulture destroying jobs,’’ Tyler said. “Now he tries to tell us he can create them. If you think you know Mitt, think again.’’

Try today and get two weeks FREE. Brian C. Mooney can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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