The "Sheldon Adelson primary" — a term coined for Republican presidential hopefuls courting the billionaire casino mogul to win his financial backing — was on full display over the weekend at the Republican Jewish Coalition's spring meeting at Adelson's Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.
For Adelson, as well as other members of the conservative Jewish coalition, the litmus test has always been "unwavering support for Israel's government," according to The New York Times
, but after 2012, electability has become of tantamount importance.
In 2012 Adelson famously spent at least $100 million funding Republican candidates, though he received a backlash of criticism for heavily bankrolling the primary campaign of former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich — to the tune of $15 million — "a long shot who used the money and time it afforded him to eviscerate Mitt Romney, the party's eventual nominee, with political attack ads," according to the Times.
Adelson has already indicated he very much likes Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, but his camp has made clear that the world's 12th richest person has not made any final decisions.
reported last week that Adelson has told friends that Rubio, whose "hawkish pro-defense views and unwavering support for Israel align with his own," is "a fresh face who is 'the future of the Republican Party.' "
The hundreds of members of the Republican Jewish Coalition are also "holding off on backing one contender until they have a better sense of who is running and whether they have any staying power," according to MSNBC
It's a much different scenario than in 2012, when establishment candidate and ultimate Republican nominee Mitt Romney was the clear favorite.
"You have a field of thoroughbreds," former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman told reporters covering the event. "A lot of people want to see the scorecard and then they'll pick and choose."
The controversial nuclear deal with Iran and the animus between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may result in 2016 being a year of unprecedented giving by members of the RJC, the organization's spokesman, Mark McNulty, told MSBNC.
"Our best recruiters are Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton," he said, adding that the spring meeting's attendance saw an increase of 75 percent from 2014 and 125 percent from 2013.
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