Airbags, Moneybags And Windbags

When Newt Gingrich was fined $300,000 by the House of Representatives in 1997 for unethical behavior and lying to investigators, the Speaker, now a multi-millionaire, said he didn't have the money.  Sen. Bob Dole came to his rescue in what was called the first time in history that a politician saved an air bag. 

Dole helped establish a $150,000 line of credit for Gingrich. Ultimately, Dole said, the Speaker got the money from other sources.

Notwithstanding his generous offer of help, Dole, apparently holds his former colleague in low esteem. Far from backing Gingrich's quest for the nomination, the GOP's 1996 standard bearer thinks the disgraced former Speaker would be a disaster for the party if he were to be nominated. 

Gingrich doesn't need Dole's money any longer.  Not only has he become very wealthy himself, but he has the very generous backing of the man who calls himself the richest Jew in America, Sheldon Adelson.

Adelson and Gingrich initially bonded over legislation to force the move of the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.  Newt was the prime sponsor in the House, and Dole took the lead in the Senate.  The Kansas senator, then the majority leader, unveiled the proposal at the AIPAC Policy Conference in 1995.

Notwithstanding their success on this legislation, the two top Republicans on Capitol Hill had a rocky relationship and very different styles.  Dole has said Gingrich "loved" picking fights with President Bill Clinton just so he could get the media attention.

"If Gingrich is the nominee it will have an adverse impact on Republican candidates running for county, state and federal offices," Dole said in a statement released by the Mitt Romney campaign.  "Hardly anyone who served with Newt in Congress has endorsed him and that fact speaks for itself. He was a one-man-band who rarely took advice. It was his way or the highway."

The Adelson family, however, is very enthusiastic about Gingrich and it has doubled down on its bet for him to win this year regardless of what Dole says. 

Dr. Miriam Adelson, an Israeli-born physician, gave $5 million to the pro-Gingrich SuperPAC Winning Our Future this week, matching the sum her husband, Sheldon, gave earlier this month. Their backing has been instrumental in financing the hard-hitting attacks on Mitt Romney and turning around a campaign once given up for dead.

There's a lot of speculation that Adelson's money has bought Gingrich's pro-Israel views, but it isn't true. He may have become much more strident as a result of their association, but long before he became speaker in 1995 Gingrich was in the pro-Israel ranks.  In 1991 he publicly criticized the president from his own party, George H.W. Bush, for being unfairly critical of Israel and its supporters.  In the early 1990s he developed a close relationship with Benjamin Netanyahu, when both were out of power and battling the pro-peace policies Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and President Bill Clinton.  That friendship continues.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.