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As GOP Race Shifts, SuperPAC Mega-Donors Weigh Next Moves

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
February 15, 2012

As Rick Santorum leaps forward in the polls just weeks before several key GOP primaries, some wealthy donors are considering upping the ante.

Foster Friess, who has contributed to the pro-Santorum superPAC the Red, White and Blue Fund, tells ABC News he is committed to sticking with Santorum through the GOP nominating convention in August.

He’s not providing details of how much more he would be willing to donate to help Santorum, telling ABC he’ll “play as we go along.”

Friess has so far donated a total of $381,000 to the Red, White and Blue Fund, according to OpenSecrets.org. He has also contributed $2,500 directly to Rick Santorum’s campaign and an additional $50,000 to the Leaders for Families SuperPAC, which helped Santorum toward his win in Iowa’s caucuses.

Friess, who was interviewed by NPR’s Robert Siegel earlier this year, maintains a personal website where he outlines his views on several issues including health care, immigration and climate change. The New Republic reports that the retired mutual fund manager has shown a willingness to take on a more public role in politics with plans to donate to at least eight Republicans in upcoming U.S. Senate races.

Last week in Washington, he raised his public profile by introducing Santorum at the annual CPAC conference. He has also appeared numerous times on cable news outlets supporting the former Pennsylvania senator.

While he is considered to be one of the biggest donors to the Red, White and Blue Fund, he tells ABC News he’s not as deep-pocketed as some other donors. “I’m a millionaire; I’m not a billionaire. Maybe $10 million is not a big deal if you are worth $20 billion,” he said.

Last month, he told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto he is really “the underdog billionaire.”

Friess is comparing himself to Sheldon Adelson, who along with his wife donated $10 million to the pro-Gingrich superPAC, Winning Our Future.

Santorum’s recent rise apparently hasn’t pleased Adelson, who also appears to be weighing another superPAC contribution.

In an apparent act of political poker, according to the Wall Street Journal, Adelson is considering doubling down on his support of Gingrich, hoping to take evangelical and conservative voters away from Santorum just before Super Tuesday.

For Adelson, who has previously indicated his willingness to eventually support Mitt Romney if he becomes the Republican Party nominee, such a move would be a win-win by potentially propelling either Gingrich or Romney ahead of Santorum.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Adelson does not support Santorum’s “strong conservative” views.

While Adelson currently supports Gingrich, he has indicated his ultimate goal is beating President Obama. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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