Adelson: Hagel nomination is "shameful"

Sheldon Adelson, the Republican Party’s main money man, said today the nomination (and likely confiirmation) of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary is “shameful” because of his "associations" and because he is “anti-Semitic.”

When I asked Las Vegas Sands Chairman Adelson, whom I had an impromptu chat with at his office this afternoon before lunching with a friend of his, how upset he was that the Hagel nomination is moving forward, he replied with one word: “Very.”

He then launched into a mini-rant about Hagel, saying he can’t believe “this president” would have chosen someone who had made some of the statements he has made. Later, Adelson wryly suggested that after Hagel is confirmed, “He’s going to convert to Judaism” to show good faith. Then, Adelson added, “He’ll move to Israel.”

Despite those tongue-in-cheek comments, it’s clear Gondolier Numero Uno is not pleased. I asked him about those reports that he had been involved in efforts to kill the nomination, but he refused to discuss it.

Adelson mentioned he had chatted the previous evening with his friend, Bibi Netanyahu, and told him he could never do what he does. I wondered what that meant, and Adelson explained that he could never do what politicians do, “the willingness to compromise.”

What did Netanyahu reply? “I can’t tell you what he said,” Adelson told me.

Indeed, Adelson did not want to talk politics at all, preferring to chat about the achievements of his medical foundation, which he said is searching for a marker for ovarian cancer. The foundation, shared by his wife, Miriam, who is physician, has been infused with millions from the pair.

I asked Adelson about building here, and he told me only one person can “reinvigorate” Las Vegas: Steve Wynn. Wynn and Adelson used to be bitter rivals, but have since forged a bond in Obamahate and Macaulove.

Adelson said if Wynn were to build a spectacular project on the old Desert Inn Golf course, he is such a “showman” that he could cause the kind of hype that could revitalize the Strip. “If he built something, I would build something,” Adelson said.

So has he told his friend Wynn this?

Yes.

What did he say?

“He doesn’t want to build here,” Adelson said.

Finally, I tried to elicit what Adelson's support might be of the state Republican Party now that his right-hand man, Mike Leven, gave $10,000 in January. Adelson seemed surprised that Leven had done so – I had been told it was a signal Adelson would be eschewing the third-party route. So I asked what his future donations would be, and he shrugged me off, again saying he did not want to talk politics.

But then he had a suggestion for me: “Why don't you chair the Nevada Republican Party?”

Let me count the reasons....