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Adelson 'might' give $100 million to help Gingrich

By By Kim Geiger

Tribune Washington Bureau (MCT)

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 21 2012 2:10 p.m. MST

WASHINGTON _ The billionaire casino mogul whose massive donations to a 'super PAC' have kept alive the presidential ambitions of Newt Gingrich is finally speaking publicly about his role in this presidential race.

In a cover story interview with Forbes magazine, a defiant Sheldon Adelson suggested he might give as much as "$100 million to Gingrich." He dismissed as "unfair" speculation that he has been trying to buy the presidential election, saying people who think that "are either jealous or professional critics."

The remarks came as Winning Our Future, the super PAC to which Adelson and his wife publicly wired $10 million last month, submitted financial forms revealing where it had received its money and how the money was being spent. The forms show that the Adelsons have almost single-handedly financed the committee, which is credited with helping Gingrich win in South Carolina and with keeping his campaign afloat in Florida, where he placed second behind Mitt Romney.

"I'm against very wealthy ­people attempting to or influencing elections," he said. "But as long as it's doable, I'm going to do it. Because I know that guys like (George) Soros have been doing it for years, if not decades."

The 78-year-old CEO of the Las Vegas Sands had been personally tight-lipped about his donations to the Gingrich super PAC, though he was the only mega-donor whose contributions were publicly known well before super PACs filed the required disclosure forms.

"I'm proud of what I do and I'm not looking to escape recognition," he said.

Gingrich, in an interview with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace, credited Adelson with countering Romney's wealthy backers, who have donated more than $36 million to a super PAC supporting Romney's candidacy.

"He's certainly helping balance off Romney's 16 billionaires and he's helping balance off Wall Street money," Gingrich said.

Thanks to the Adelsons' $10 million, the pro-Gingrich super PAC raised more than $11 million in January, while the pro-Romney super PAC raised just $6.6 million.

Still, Adelson told Forbes, he's likely to support any candidate who emerges as the GOP nominee, except the libertarian-minded Texas Rep. Ron Paul.

"The likelihood is that I'm going to be supportive of whoever the candidate is," he said. "I just haven't decided that yet and will wait to see what happens."

Adelson suggested that he doesn't want his money going toward negative advertising.

"I don't believe in negative campaigning," he said. "I believe in saying that my opponents are very good people and I'm confident a lot of them would do a good job, but I would do a better job, and here's why."

But much of the $9.2 million spent by Winning Our Future on independent expenditures in South Carolina and Florida last month went to ads opposing Romney.

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