The casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson told Donald J. Trump in a private meeting last week that he was willing to contribute more to help elect him than he has to any previous campaign, a sum that could exceed $100 million, according to two Republicans with direct knowledge of Mr. Adelson's commitment. As significant, Mr. Adelson, a billionaire based in Las Vegas, has decided that he will significantly scale back his giving to congressional Republicans and direct most of his contributions to groups dedicated to Mr. Trump's campaign.
Now that Donald Trump has abandoned months of boasts about "self-funding," he's going to need some Republican mega-donors to help finance the Republican's general-election campaign. The New York Times reports that one especially notable contributor is already eager to play a role.
The article noted that it's unclear exactly how Adelson will make his investment, and the casino magnate and his team "are still uncertain about which super PAC to use as their vehicle for the bulk of the contributions."
That said, Trump and Adelson met last week; the candidate said he's "dedicated to protecting Israel's security," and Adelson agreed soon after to spent as much as $100 million to make the former reality-show host the president of the United States.
The punch-line, however, is something Trump said on Twitter in October: "Sheldon Adelson is looking to give big dollars to [Sen. Marco Rubio] because he feels he can mold him into his perfect little puppet."
At the time, the Florida senator was receiving quite a bit of support from GOP mega-donors, and Adelson appeared to be on board with Team Rubio -- a dynamic Trump was eager to mock. Indeed, the idea that the senator was part of a corrupt system in which wealthy interests buy candidates in order to make them "puppets" was at the heart of Trump's message.
The key word in that sentence, however, is "was."
As we discussed last week, Trump assured voters for months that he's "self-funding" his campaign, and it was a powerful selling point. He insisted campaign contributions have a corrupting effect on public officials -- Trump said he knew it because he was among the wealthy donors doing the buying -- but he's above all of this ugliness because he relies solely on his own checkbook. Americans wouldn't have to worry about fat-cat donors telling Trump what to do because he doesn't want -- and doesn't take -- their money.
And yet, there was Trump telling Sheldon Adelson what he wanted to hear during a private discussion last week, which was followed soon after by the donor's decision to be quite generous towards the presumptive Republican nominee.
Months of rhetoric about the corrupting influence of campaign contributions has been wiped away with amazing efficiency, and in the process, arguably the most compelling pillar of Trump's entire candidacy has been removed.