Top Republicans in Washington and in the national GOP establishment say the 2010 campaign highlighted an urgent task that they will begin in earnest as soon as the elections are over: Stop Sarah Palin.
Interviews with advisers to the main 2012 presidential contenders and with other veteran Republican operatives make clear they see themselves on a common, if uncoordinated, mission of halting the momentum and credibility Palin gained with conservative activists by plunging so aggressively into this year’s midterm campaigns.
There is rising expectation among GOP elites that Palin will probably run for president in 2012 and could win the Republican nomination, a prospect many of them regard as a disaster in waiting.
Many of these establishment figures argue in not-for-attribution comments that Palin’s nomination would ensure President Barack Obama’s reelection, as the deficiencies that marked her 2008 debut as a vice presidential nominee — an intensely polarizing political style and often halting and superficial answers when pressed on policy — have shown little sign of abating in the past two years.
“There is a determined, focused establishment effort … to find a candidate we can coalesce around who can beat Sarah Palin,” said one prominent and longtime Washington Republican. “We believe she could get the nomination, but Barack Obama would crush her.”
This sentiment was a nearly constant refrain in POLITICO interviews with top advisers to the candidates most frequently mentioned as running in 2012 and a diverse assortment of other top GOP officials.
Nearly all of these interviewees insisted on keeping their views on background, fearing the wrath of conservative grass-roots activists who are enthralled with the former Alaska governor and who have made plain that the establishment’s disdain for Palin and her devotees is mutually reciprocated.
Top Republicans, from presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty to highly influential advisers such as Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, are said to be concerned she will run, and could win, according to the officials.
Perhaps Rush Limbaugh has it right on why there is fear among the establishment.
Limbaugh did not respond directly to an e-mail request for comment, but he did mention the inquiry about establishment antipathy to Palin on his radio show. “It could also be they’re scared to death that [if] Palin wins, it’s the end of them — the Republican establishment,” Limbaugh said.
He also questioned the timing of media speculation about her impact. “What’s the point of running a story like that right now if not, then, to sow dissension in the ranks?”
Could be an interesting dynamic following the mid-term elections. Especially if Palin decides to run.
Palin this week told “Entertainment Tonight” that if a candidate she feels is sufficiently conservative does not emerge, she would feel moved to run. “If there’s nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this.”
It begs the question. Is the Republican establishment still that clueless as to what has been taking place the last 18 months?
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- Republican Establishment vs. Sarah Palin (outsidethebeltway.com)
- Palin Scares The Crap Out Of Anonymous Republican Establishment [Video] (jezebel.com)