When potential Republican presidential candidates flocked to Las Vegas last month for a high-profile event, they were eager to curry favor with the party’s biggest donors. But perhaps none more so than Sheldon Adelson.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Adelson and his wife “gave more than $92 million to campaign groups in 2012.” They are expected to pour tens of millions more into the 2016 presidential race. And that means all the candidates at the Sin City event were eager to tailor their public — and private — remarks to please Adelson.
Take former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, the subject of a coming Defense News piece (check Monday’s issue for that) about his likely defense and foreign policy platform (should he run, of course).
According to a senior Republican official and press reports, during the Las Vegas powwow, Bush warned against his party embracing “neo-isolationism.” He also criticized what most in Republican circles see as President Barack Obama’s passive foreign policy approach. Bush also reportedly pushed back against those who accuse the GOP of being pro-war in every circumstance when they simply favor, as Time magazine put it, an activist foreign policy.
As Monday’s Defense News piece will explain, GOP sources and Washington insiders predict Jeb Bush, if he runs, will propose a defense and foreign policy agenda that closely resembles what Larry Korb of the Center for American Progress called “classic Republican realism.”
Think former President George H.W. Bush. Think James Baker, his secretary of state. Or former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
The senior Republican official told your correspondent that he also expects a mostly realist bent to any eventual Jeb Bush foreign policy vision rather than the neoconservatism that dominated much of his brother’s presidency.
There’s a but. Of course. These things are never black-and-white.
The senior Republican official noted that the former Florida governor’s Las Vegas speech was more activist than realist. How to explain that?
“Well, remember, he was speaking in front of Sheldon Adelson,” the Republican official said. “If you come out very realist, you’re not going to be very close to Sheldon Adelson — and his money.”
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