The wife of Sands Corp. Chairman Sheldon Adelson on Monday matched her husband's $5 million donation to a political action committee backing Newt Gingrich for president as the PAC and his campaign prepared to launch TV ads in Nevada within days, GOP sources said.
The fresh funding from Dr. Miriam Adelson comes less than two weeks before Nevada's Feb. 4 GOP presidential caucus as Gingrich rises as the biggest threat to one-time front-runner Mitt Romney in the Republican race. Gingrich, the former House speaker, is leading in Florida polls ahead of the Sunshine State's Jan. 31 primary after his victory over Romney on Saturday in South Carolina .
Sheldon Adelson's initial $5 million donation to the Winning Our Future super PAC came just ahead of the South Carolina contest and funded anti-Romney TV spots that helped Gingrich win.
The Las Vegas power couple, who are friends with Gingrich, may end up donating more than the total $10 million so far to the super PAC supporting him if he extends the GOP nomination battle into the spring, but no promises have been made, sources close to Adelson said.
"Adelson has sent signals to others that he plans to be very active throughout the presidential election," said one insider familiar with the casino mogul's thinking. "I think the Adelsons are pleased with the momentum that Speaker Gingrich has at the moment and hopes it continues."
A multi billionaire and one of America's richest men, Adelson has made it clear he is prepared to financially back the eventual GOP nominee -- no matter who it is -- against President Barack Obama to block the Democrat's re-election. One GOP insider put the total potential contribution at up to $25 million, but people close to Adelson have dismissed such figures as speculation.
Gregg Phillips, managing director of the Winning Our Future PAC, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal the group has been working to identify Gingrich supporters in Nevada. They're largely conservatives and members of the tea party movement who aren't happy with Romney or Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the two GOP candidates who finished No. 1 and No. 2 in the Nevada GOP caucus in 2008.
Phillips said the PAC expects to launch its first TV ads in Nevada in the next 48 hours or so.
"We're already spending some money in Nevada," Phillips said in a phone interview. "We have a very comprehensive strategy in each place. It includes television, radio, a digital strategy and emails."
Phillips said the PAC has five new commercials supporting Gingrich and already is running some of the spots in Florida, where Romney is battling for a comeback. Phillips said the commercials are focused on jobs and energy, but there is also a cartoon ad featuring an animated debate between Romney and Obama. The spoof suggests Romney and Obama aren't all that different.
Florida is a winner-take-all state, meaning the victor will gain all 50 delegates, raising the stakes.
In Nevada, the caucus will award the 28 GOP delegates up for grabs proportionally based on the percentage of the vote each candidate gets. Romney remains the man to beat, especially given the state's active GOP Mormon voting bloc, which backed the former Massachusetts governor four years ago. But Gingrich is making a play to pick up a healthy share of delegates .
"Nevada's important for a bunch of reasons," Phillips said. "It's not only a caucus state but a caucus state with committed delegates that are proportional. That makes it a very important place."
The PAC cannot coordinate with the campaign under federal law.
The Gingrich campaign also plans soon to go on the air in Nevada, a campaign source said, as he tries to take advantage of his momentum. Both Romney and Paul already are up with TV ads here.
Adelson and Gingrich have known each other since 1995 when the Adelsons were in Washington lobbying for a bill to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to several reports . Gingrich supports such a move.
Before the campaign, Adelson funded a Gingrich nonprofit group, American Solutions for Winning the Future, to the tune of $7.7 million between 2006 and 2010, according to The Washington Post.
The Adelsons are known for supporting both political and philanthropic causes.
Miriam Adelson, who was born in Israel, is a physician and expert in drug addiction who founded two nonprofit treatment and research centers, one in Las Vegas and one in Tel Aviv.
Sheldon Adelson, a generous contributor to GOP candidates , operates the Venetian hotel-casino and the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas and a Venetian casino in Macau.
He is worth more than $20 billion, according to Forbes.
Contact reporter Laura Myers at email@example.com or 702-387-2919. Follow @lmyerslvrj on Twitter.