Miriam Adelson, a powerful voice behind Republican women

U.S.gaming tycoon Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam leave after U.S. Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney delivered a speech outside the Old City on July 29, 2012 in Jerusalem.

Story highlights

  • The wife of billionaire conservative Sheldon Adelson supports many women's issues
  • She is a doctor and an expert in drug addiction
  • Dr. Adelson also is a strong advocate for Israel

As the other half of a billionaire political power couple, a mother, a doctor and philanthropist, Miriam Adelson's name carries a lot of credibility with Republican women.

Adelson, an expert in drug addiction who has supported countless organizations, is seen as a champion of women's issues and groups.

So, for the Republican women who sat on white couches on Tuesday in the pink carnation-decorated "Woman Up" pavilion at the Republican National Convention listening to a strategy session on using social media, they hoped that maybe, just maybe Adelson might appear.

Adelson was a no-show yet her presence was felt.

Her name filled a large banner in the room, a reminder of her powerful connection and large check book. The Adelsons donated $5 million to the YG Action Fund, a super PAC founded by the same former aides to Rep. Eric Cantor who founded the YG Network.

"Dr. Adelson is pretty unique," said Mary Anne Carter, policy director at the YG Network, a conservative think tank that put on the "Woman Up" event. "She embodies a lot of the spirit here in the pavilion. She's a mom, a doctor ... she's supportive of conservative causes ... she's giving back."

As a physician, Miriam Adelson has spent decades studying the effectiveness of using methadone to treat drug addiction. She founded a substance abuse center and research clinic at Tel Aviv's Sourasky Medical Center and the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Research Clinic in Las Vegas.

She still dons a lab coat every day, according to a profile in Forbes, studies the genetic connection to addiction and works with patients."My priorities in life are my family, to be a good mother and a loving wife. Money is down on the list of my priorities," Adelson told Forbes. "That is why I have no problem to change my expensive suit for the white 'lab coat.' Ask me which one I prefer, and I will tell you that with no doubt, it is the white one."

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The Adelsons have given at least $36 million to various organizations and candidates this campaign season according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks the influence of money in politics. Their donations to super PACs, including $15 million to Winning Our Future -- which backed Newt Gingrich and helped to keep his candidacy alive -- and $10 million to Restore Our Future, the main super PAC supporting Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

One of Adelson's priorities is supporting and protecting Israel, where she attended a speech and fundraiser for Romney during his trip there last month.

Miriam Adelson began her medical career in Israel years ago and earned a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Genetics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and her medical degree from Tel Aviv University's Sackler Medical School, according to the Forbes profile. She became the chief emergency room internist at the Rokach Hospital in Tel Aviv.

While the couple's donations to super PACs are disclosed, Sheldon Adelson has said some of his political activity may also be made to non-profit groups that do not have to disclose their contributors. Several of these organizations are hoping for sizable gifts from the couple.

Adelson has told friends he is willing to spend up to $100 million this election season to not only make sure a Republican is elected to the White House but to support GOP congressional candidates.

Political observers credit Miriam Adelson with helping encourage her casino magnate husband to up the ante when it comes to spending money for Republican causes.

In a year when much has been made of the so-called "war on women," women like Adelson add weight to Republican causes, said Amy Kremer, chairwoman of the Tea Party Express.

Kremer said Miriam Adelson is able to use her platform to amplify the views of many Republican women.

"I think it's good that women are stepping up to the plate and getting involved," Kremer said. "Politics has always been a man's game."Both the hue and the view were decidedly rosy at the Woman's Up Pavilion.

The Republican women there took time to sip iced coffee, shop for GOP elephant accessories and plot how they could marshal forces to educate voters about the economic crisis and voter identification fraud. In a nearby room, there were walls dedicated to the history of powerful women in American politics.

Women like Miriam Adelson, said conservative activist Carter.

"Dr. Adelson ... puts her money where her mouth is," Carter said.