WASHINGTON -- A source close to wealthy donor Sheldon Adelson, who is under fire for giving $5 million to a pro-Newt Gingrich super PAC that began running TV ads attacking Mitt Romney's career in private equity, distanced the Las Vegas casino magnate from the ads on Thursday.
"Some people have made this leap that Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million and every penny of that is being used to hit Mitt Romney over Bain Capital," said the Adelson source, who asked not to be identified in order to more frankly discuss Adelson's thinking on the subject. "Aren't people getting in a tizzy here about something that maybe isn't completely accurate?"
Rick Tyler, a former Gingrich spokesman now with Winning Our Future, the super PAC backing the former House speaker, told The Huffington Post that the anti-Bain ads began running in South Carolina at 11 a.m. on Thursday. The ads are crafted from a 28-minute film bought by the super PAC, which portrays Romney as a "predatory corporate raider."
Tyler told The New York Times this past weekend that the $5 million from Adelson, which the casino owner gave on Friday, combined with the negative ads had "all the makings of a game-changer" in the GOP primary. And Winning Our Future has reserved $3.4 million in airtime for South Carolina ads prior to the state's Jan. 21 primary.
But it's not clear how much of that money is going to push the anti-Bain ads. Tyler refused to comment on how much of the $3.4 million worth of airtime would feature the ads attacking Romney's business career.
And while the Adelson source said the casino magnate was "indifferent" to the "fuss," he also strongly implied that Adelson did not want the money he gave to Gingrich to be used for ads attacking Romney's private equity career.
"I think people want to draw a conclusion that the money goes in and all $5 million is directed just towards $5 million of Bain Capital attacks on Mitt Romney, and that that's exactly what Mr. Adelson wanted that money to be spent on," the Adelson source said. "What if you donate to the Red Cross, and they do a hundred different things and you wanted it to just go to people in Haiti, and they sent it to people in Somalia instead and you didn't think that was a priority? Are you going to call the Red Cross and demand that they just send the money to Haiti? You make a donation on a basis that the people receiving the money are going to spend it in the best way that you see fit," the source added.
But Adelson has not given any direction to Gingrich about the use of the money, the Adelson source said.
"It was a pro-Newt contribution. He's not involved in the strategies or tactics of the super PAC. He has not seen the video and has given no specific instructions or otherwise as to the use of his donation," the source said.
The bulk of criticism directed at Gingrich for his Romney attacks have followed the line that such talk is an assault on free market capitalism.
"I find it beyond disturbing that Speaker Gingrich and his axmen would attack free-market success stories like the ones associated with Governor Romney," said Austin Barbour, a Mississippi fundraiser who is one of Romney's national finance chairmen. "I anticipate donors will think twice before giving any more money to support these type of practices from the Gingrich world."
The Adelson source defended Adelson's bona fides.
"I do think it's ironic that people would suggest for some reason that a guy who's been in 50 businesses over a six-and-a-half decade long business career could somehow be anti-capitalism or anti-business," the source said.
And Tyler said Winning Our Future was not backing down from its attacks.
"Not one bit," he told HuffPost.
Tyler called it "phoney-baloney" to say the ads were an attack on capitalism.
"What he's saying is he created jobs," Tyler said of Romney. "I'm saying, no he didn't. He wasn't the high-flying eagle. He was the low-flying vulture. Don't tell me you're the eagle when you're the vulture."
"Both parts are part of capitalism. Both are necessary," added Tyler, extending his analogy of eagles and vultures. "But he's trying to be the eagle, like Steve Jobs or Fred Smith or Bernie Marcus. But he's not. He's a vulture."
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