Word that billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson plans to “double down” on future campaign contributions apparently caught Gov. Bobby Jindal’s ear.
National news organizations report Jindal met with Adelson while in Las Vegas last month for the Republican Governors Association conference. The meeting adds to speculation in the national media that Louisiana’s governor is setting up the framework for a White House run in four years.
Jindal declined over the past three days to comment to on his conversation with Adelson.
However, knocking on Adelson’s door is a clear indication that Jindal is at least looking at the 2016 presidential race, said Charlie Cook, editor and publisher of The Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C..
“People thinking about possibly running for president down the road do meet with rich people all the time,” Cook said Wednesday.
Not that Cook expects Jindal to admit it. “I can’t name you one person that says, ‘I am today seriously thinking about running for president in 2016.’ That’s not what you do,” Cook said.
Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., is one of the wealthiest people in the U.S. and a prolific campaign contributor. He reportedly gave $150 million to Republicans during the most recent election cycle.
Most of his money in 2012 went to losing campaigns. However, he told The Wall Street Journal this week that he plans to continue giving and, in fact, might double what he gives.
On paper, Adelson and Jindal appear to have little in common. Adelson favors abortion rights. His company operates a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Jindal opposes abortion and the expansion of gambling.
Adelson told The Wall Street Journal that he makes friends through his “pocket personality” rather than his looks.
After Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lost the race, Jindal quickly shifted from supporter to outspoken critic.
Jindal usually deflects questions about his ambitions by proclaiming his love for his current job.
In Las Vegas, Jindal gave interviews to national news organizations while ignoring local media in Louisiana. Also on his agenda, according to news organizations such as Politico, was a meeting at the Venetian Hotel with Adelson. Other Republican governors named as possible 2016 presidential candidates took the time to meet with Adelson as well.
Republican Party State Chairman Roger Villere Jr. said Jindal could have talked to Adelson about making business investments in Louisiana. “All I know is he’s still got a number of years to be governor,” Villere said.
Former state Insurance Commissioner Jim Brown, whose son-in-law advised Romney on foreign policy, said Jindal is exploring his options behind first-tier possible candidates Paul Ryan and Jeb Bush.
“He’s had his toe in the water for the last three years,” Brown said.