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Political Notebook

Gingrich backer says he would support Romney as nominee

LAS VEGAS - Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire casino executive keeping Newt Gingrich’s presidential hopes alive, has relayed assurances to Mitt Romney that he will provide even more generous support to his candidacy if he becomes the Republican nominee, several associates said in interviews here.

The signals from Adelson, whose politics are shaped in large part by his support for Israel, reflect what the associates said was his deep investment in defeating President Obama and his willingness to play a more prominent role in the Republican Party and conservative causes.

The assurances have been conveyed in response to a highly delicate campaign by Romney and his top Jewish financial supporters to dissuade Adelson from adding to the $10 million that he and his wife have given to a pro-Gingrich super PAC, Winning Our Future, that has been tearing into Romney through television advertising.

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Several people who have spoken with Adelson over the past two weeks said he would most likely continue to help the group as long as Gingrich remained in the race.

But, they said, he is concerned that additional deep-pocketed donors have not joined him. And, they said, his affection for and loyalty to Gingrich, who met with him here on Friday, have not blinded him to the reality that the nominating contest is tilting in Romney’s favor.

“Sheldon is committed to keeping him in the race as long as he wants to stay in,’’ said Fred Zeidman, a top fund-raiser for Romney and a longtime friend of Adelson. “But any time that Newt decides to get out of the race, he would devote his energy and money to the overriding issue, which is beating Barack Obama.’’

— NEW YORK TIMES

Obama calls for support for mortgage assistance

WASHINGTON - President Obama is rallying support for his plan to expand government assistance to homeowners, pressuring Congress to help lower lending rates for millions of strapped homeowners.

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Obama, in his radio and Internet address yesterday, urged the public to “get on the phone, send an e-mail, tweet,’’ and visit with their lawmakers about his housing proposal to lower lending rates for millions of homeowners.

“They’re the ones who have to pass this plan,’’ Obama said. “And as anyone who has followed the news in the last six months can tell you, getting Congress to do anything these days is not an easy job.’’

Obama outlined the housing plan on Wednesday, asking Congress to approve legislation that would make it easier for more borrowers to refinance their loans. The proposal would create a new program through the Federal Housing Administration that would have the government assume the risk for the new mortgages.

The president wants to pay for the plan, which is expected to cost $5 billion to $10 billion, by placing a fee on the nation’s largest banks, a move that faces long odds in Congress.

Republicans say they want Obama’s help in passing a payroll tax cut extension for a full year and proposals to expand energy production and repair and rebuild roads and bridges.

Representative Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania said in the Republican address that their energy and infrastructure agenda would create more than a million private-sector jobs, “not by wasting your money on pork-barrel projects and so-called ‘stimulus’ spending, but by removing government barriers that are getting in the way of American job growth.’’

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— ASSOCIATED PRESS