GOP Debate at Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian in Las Vegas Tough on National Security as Candidates Flaunt Defense Credentials

Posted on: December 16, 2015, 01:15h. 

Last updated on: December 16, 2015, 01:23h.

The fifth and last GOP debate of 2015 honed in on issues of national security following the terrorism attacks in both Paris and San Bernardino, California. All nine main stage candidates,  starring Donald Trump front and center, positioned for exposure to exhibit their defense expertise.

Donald Trump GOP debate Venetian Las Vegas
GOP debate in Las Vegas: Donald Trump was once again the kingpin at the year’s final Republican debate, held at fellow billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian casino. (Image: John Locher/AP)

Donald Trump reigned supreme once more, at least stature-wise, as the real estate mogul continues his dominating popularity in the polls. But itwas the senators from Florida and Texas who seemed the most confrontational during the three-hour spectacle, as Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz repeatedly sparred over their Congressional records.

While there was no clear winner, host network CNN declared that Rubio and Cruz both fared well, as did Trump, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the latter two scoring a much-needed victory.

The debate was largely fair and balanced, according to the candidates.

The two notable exceptions were Trump attacking the moderators for routinely posing questions against him, and Salem Radio Network talk show host Hugh Hewitt winning the prize for most bizarre debate question while asking former pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson if he would be comfortable with the “death of thousands of innocent children” in bombing ISIS.

Carson’s response was equally strange, mentioning children whose heads he had opened up for brain surgery later being grateful he had done so. What?

Sheldon in the Wings

The conversation focused on keeping America safe, which was noted as the number one responsibility of the president per repetitive declarations by the candidates. No gambling or daily fantasy sports talk was mentioned, even though the debate was taking place in Las Vegas, the gaming mecca of the United States.

Several celebrities were in attendance, including Mr. Las Vegas himself Wayne Newton, but the elephant not shown in the room was billionaire Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson.

Held in the swing state of Nevada at Adelson’s Venetian resort, political insiders believe Rubio is the preferred candidate in the eyes of the gambling tycoon. Adelson gave nearly $100 million in donations to super political action committees (PAC) during the 2012 presidential election, and he’s more than likely to do the same in 2016.

Rumors have also been bandied this week that Adelson could be the mysterious buyer of Sin City’s primary news source, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Many believe the paper, bought for many millions more than its stated value, could be one tool Adelson hopes to use to sway the important Nevada vote in his desired direction, although the buyer remains shrouded in darkness.

Cruz vs. Rubio

Last night Rubio and Cruz both made their cases to persuade voters to their side as a legitimate conservative option to the outspoken Trump. Adelson is a vital prize to a successful Republican campaign, assuming one isn’t worth $10 billion on one’s own, as is the frontrunner the Donald.

Rubio, who’s allegedly met with Adelson privately on several occasions, is reportedly the lead candidate to receive his financial backing. However, there are also reports that Adelson’s wife Miriam prefers Cruz, and it’s rumored to have led to an internal argument among the couple.

Cruz spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Spring Leadership Meeting in April at the Venetian, with both Sheldon and Miriam in attendance.

Speculation has also surfaced that Adelson isn’t in favor of Trump being the Republican nominee to go up against the likely Democrat pick Hillary Clinton. Trump tweeted in October that Adelson preferred Rubio because “he can mold him into his perfect little puppet.”

That said, Trump and Adelson did meet before last night’s debate. “He’s been a friend of mine for a long time,” Trump told the Washington Post. “He called to see whether or not we could meet, and we are going to meet.”

Money, meet money.

Trump is refusing to accept contributions from PACs in favor of self-funding his campaign and through individual donations.