If you’re read any of the non-conservative-entertainment-media books about Donald Trump or any of the serious reportage about him two things clear: he is quick to anger and bullying/dominance is his game. Has Trump’s attempt to browbeat someone with deep pockets into doing what he says now backfired?
It certainly sounds that way. Two reports say Trump had a phone call with GOP mega donor Sheldon Adelson that turned ugly when Trump asked the man who some call the biggest GOP donor in the world why he hasn’t given him (more) money.
Earlier in the week, Mr. Trump had a tense phone call with the casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson, whom the president upbraided for not donating more to support his re-election, according to a person familiar with the call. Mr. Adelson and his wife donated $10 million to a super PAC supporting Mr. Trump in 2018, and have each written checks for nearly $600,000 during this cycle.
Politico’s report fleshes the call out and it doesn’t sound like it was pretty:
When President Donald Trump connected by phone last week with Republican megadonor Sheldon Adelson — perhaps the only person in the party who can cut a nine-figure check to aid his reelection — the phone call unexpectedly turned contentious.
The 87-year-old casino mogul had reached out to Trump to talk about the coronavirus relief bill and the economy. But then Trump brought the conversation around to the campaign and confronted Adelson about why he wasn’t doing more to bolster his reelection, according to three people with direct knowledge of the call. One of the people said it was apparent the president had no idea how much Adelson, who’s donated tens of millions of dollars to pro-Trump efforts over the years, had helped him. Adelson chose not to come back at Trump.
When word of the call circulated afterward, Republican Party officials grew alarmed the president had antagonized one of his biggest benefactors at a precarious moment in his campaign. They rushed to smooth things over with him, but the damage may have been done.
Adelson’s allies say it’s unclear whether the episode will dissuade the Las Vegas mogul — long regarded as a financial linchpin for Trump’s reelection — from helping the president down the home stretch.
A White House spokesman declined to comment.
Perhaps Adelson will make some monster contribution this year. But odds would seem against it.
Trump as President demands deference. So do billionaires. Billionaires don’t like to be talked to like they’re underlings. Adelson was calling about relief (for his casinos? for Nevada?). Trump turned it away from that broader issue to what-have-you-done-for-me lately. Adelson, like many in Vegas, is losing big bucks as the town continues to reel from the coronavirus wipe-out. I have a prominent friend in entertainment there who flatly predicts the city “will never ever come back where it was” and talks about unemployed food industry, casino workers and entertainers who can’t find work which is leading to increased homelessness.
The other issue is: if Adelson and others conclude that Trump is going down they’d likely put their money into saving Republican Senators. It doesn’t sound as if Trump dealt with Adelson as a world-class dealmaker talking to a mega donor.
He dealt with Adelson as if he was dominating a lackey.
And powerful billionaires may not like that.
One of the people familiar with TRUMP's call with SHELDON ADELSON said it was apparent Trump had no idea how much Adelson had donated to help Trump's reelection.
— Kenneth P. Vogel (@kenvogel) August 8, 2020
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) August 8, 2020
Trump resents anyone with casinos that don’t go bankrupt. https://t.co/pM6AZX0C3J
— Tea Pain (@TeaPainUSA) August 8, 2020
As Trump needs cash for his re-election effort he chewed out out the GOP’s most generous donor: ‘It was apparent the president had no idea how much Adelson, who’s donated tens of millions of dollars to pro-Trump efforts over the years, had helped him.’ https://t.co/43CjYSKfvM
— Social D (@dennisjromero) August 8, 2020
New: Billionaire GOP donor Sheldon Adelson called the president last week to discuss the coronavirus relief bill and the economy.
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) August 8, 2020
Adelson should read Mary L Trump’s book to find out more about Trumps views on antisemitism
— runner486 (@cfbarry486) August 8, 2020
Can we just take a second to acknowledge that Trump’s face is the same color as Adelson’s hair, and Adelson’s face is the same color as Trump’s hair. pic.twitter.com/Vq7gRIKxAs
— The Taterade (@The_Taterade) August 8, 2020
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.