Nathan Deal's non-answer on courting casino magnate Sheldon Adelson

Gov. Nathan Deal is back from a trip to Las Vegas to address the Republican National Lawyers Association. Whether he also returned with a coveted campaign pledge from casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is up in the air.

We told you over the weekend how Deal's allies hope Adelson, a GOP benefactor who boosted Newt Gingrich’s 2012 presidential bid, could chip in to his re-election campaign. The event was held at The Venetian, an Adelson hotel, though Deal was tightlipped Tuesday when asked whether he met with the billionaire.

“I don’t discuss who I meet with on purely political issues, or those that support us or don’t support us," the governor said. "We meet with people who hopefully are supportive of conservative causes and Republican efforts, and we meet with a lot of those people all across the country."

When pressed on whether he's courting Adelson's support in particular, he added this:

“I would hope to have the support of anyone who wants to contribute to our re-election.”

If Adelson backs Deal's campaign, it may have more to do with Deal's opponent than the governor's position. Jason Carter is the grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, whose criticism of Israel's treatment of Palestinians has upset many in the Jewish community.

Deal, meanwhile, has stepped up efforts to tie his opponent with his grandfather's view of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that the U.S. considers a terror organization. After the former president called on Western powers to recognize Hamas as a legitimate political actor, his grandson said attempts to connect the two are a distraction.

Jason Carter, in that interview, didn't comment specifically about his grandfather's column. But he said he often talks about the ways in which he disagrees with the former president and said he believes Israel has a right to defend itself - "especially against Hamas' terrorist actions."

(And the former president, by the way, has said in an interview that he acknowledges his views on the Middle East could pose problems for his grandson's campaign, but said he overcame similar opposition from the Jewish community when he negotiated the landmark peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.)

The governor, not surprisingly, made clear Tuesday he would continue to draw dotted lines between the two.

“If he thinks that it’s something that doesn’t need to be talked about, I would suggest he divorce himself from his grandfather’s statements that are very critical of Israel,” Deal said of his opponent. “He’s using his grandfather as his primary fundraiser all across this country. He’s taking money from his grandfather on one hand, and then trying to disassociate himself from his grandfather on issues such as this.”

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.