One of the topics likely to take center stage this summer is going to be the crowd that will seek to get the Republican Party nomination to take on Barrack Obama in the 2012 presidential election. I have no doubt that there will be a crowd as many sense Obama’s weakness and a country tired of the poor economy, big government spending, and Washington in general.
There are the obvious players like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee (both had their chances and should defer to better candidates). There are the older-school Republicans like Newt Gingrich (he was smart not to run against Obama in 2008 since “change” was definitely in the air and he, like any Republican, would not have won – his time has passed also and he should defer to better candidates). There are the unknown/barely knowns like Tim Pawlenty who seem to have the credentials, but face a steep uphill battle to become known. There are the young guns like Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul who I would prefer to stay in Congress and fight there for us as Republicans. I think anyone of them would be good for the country, but I think we need them to wrest control of the Republican Party from the blue-bloods once and for all.
And then there is Sarah Palin. I cannot think of a more popular Republican on Earth. She pulls in the crowds; she says the right things, she “wows” the crowds, she drives liberals nuts. That’s quite a resume when you consider how she energized John McCain’s lackluster campaign. Sarah Palin is also more likely to come out swinging. How many conservatives could not get excited about Senator McCain because he wouldn’t take the gloves off and take on Obama’s background and politics? Sarah Palin has a tremendous up-side were she to run for president.
The reason that she should NOT run is her tremendous down-side. There is perhaps no conservative who is hated more than Sarah Palin (maybe Rush Limbaugh). While her public image has grown with her frequent appearances on talk shows, the success of her “Alaska” show and her alignment with the TEA Party are all positive steps she is not likely to be able to overcome the liberal snobbery and hate. While immensely popular with regular folks she is also immensely unpopular with liberals.
There are two examples that spoke to me recently that forged my opinion. The first was the appearance of Bristol Palin on Dancing With the Stars. Bristol was NOT the best dancer or perhaps even the tenth best dancer, but it seems like Sarah Palin followers kept voting to keep Bristol in the competition. Treated as quaint at first by the media, Bristol’s ascension into the finals brought out the kooks and conspiracy nutjobs or Palin-haters. One event in the competition stood out in my mind. Sarah Palin attended a performance early in the competition. She was shown on the broadcast and there was a smattering of boos which looked like the audience was booing her. The show was quick to correct that the audience was actually booing one of the judges who was critical of one of the dancers and not booing Sarah Palin. Weeks later as the show’s popularity grew I often saw replays of this event on media coverage and they NEVER explained that the crowd’s displeasure was not aimed at Ms. Palin. This is the media we’ll have to endure were she to run. We don’t expect the liberal media to be fair and balanced, but it would be nice to have a fresh start with our candidate.
The second example is from Palin’s home state of Alaska and their senate race. Sarah Palin and the TEA Party backed Joe Miller as he trounced entrenched RINO Lisa Murkowski in the Republican Primary. Rather than support her party’s candidate she ran a write-in campaign. The RINO/blue-blood Republicans (like Karl Rove) do not like Sarah Palin and the TEA Party folks. They would never fully support her as a candidate and would rather have an easy win with RINO than run a tough campaign with a true conservative candidate. I also believe that the Miller-Murkowski race shows the depth to which Democrats will go to punish Palin. It is widely believed that many Democrats actually voted for Murkowski so that Miller would not win. They voted for a Republican write-in candidate rather than their Democrat candidate.
I think Sarah Palin has a BIG role to play in the next election. She would be a fantastic person to have on the campaign trail. She draws crowds; she can be the attack dog; she can be a lightening rod, but I don’t think she should be a candidate.
This post was updated on January 10, 2011 and you can read it here.