WILL PALIN KEEP THIS UP IF ROMNEY GETS THE NOMINATION? AND WHICH SIDE DOES THAT HELP?
Sarah Palin is suddenly all over the place. First we had Howard Fineman listing five reasons why Newt Gingrich's campaign is imploding in Florida, including this one:
The Palin Factor. Some D.C.-based establishment types were preparing to reconcile themselves to former House Speaker Gingrich, if not outright endorse him, before or after the South Carolina primary last week. But according to one such insider, who asked not to be identified because of her prominent corporate lobbying role, Gingrich fatally said on Jan. 18 -- three days before the primary -- that he would offer former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin a "major role in the next administration if I'm president." That one statement scared the accept-Newt, Republican-establishment types. "That sure did it for me, and I think for a lot of other people in town," the lobbyist said.
Now we have a blistering anti-Romney, anti-GOP Establishment screed written by Palin's ghostwriter* and posted on her Facebook page, and we have Politico declaring her to be Gingrich's "unofficial campaign surrogate."
So, is she going to keep this up past primary season, after Romney wraps it up? Is she going to go on Fox and be lukewarm about Romney, or even actively hostile? Might she even endorse some obscure third-party Jesus-'n'-guns candidate for president instead of Mitt?
And if so, does that help Mitt or hurt him?
I can see it both ways. On the one hand, Romney needs a crazy base that's motivated to vote for him. Palin's sincere backing would be of benefit in order to get that to happen.
On the other hand, he's counting on the mainstream press to tell swing voters that he's not really a right-winger, that all the crazy right-wing things he said in the primaries were just for show and he'll govern as president only a bit more conservatively than he governed Massachusetts. (Heck, ladies, he might even become pro-choice again!)
This is nonsense, of course -- if he's president, he's just going to do whatever the crazy Republicans in Congress want him to do, because they have an agenda they're hell-bent on enacting, and he's a pathetic, passve wimp who just wants to hold the office of president, not actually do anything.
But mainstream pundits may cite the opposition (or at least wariness) of Sarah Palin (and possibly a few other zealots) as evidence that Romney won't really be a right-winger. And swing voters might swallow that.
But how would these two things would balance each other out? I really don't know.
*Wingnuts, please don't try to persuade me that Palin writes her own Facebook posts. Here's a typical sentence -- stilted but reasonably coherent -- from the current one:
Without this necessary vetting process, the unanswered question of Governor Romney's conservative bona fides and the unanswered and false attacks on Newt Gingrich will hang in the air to demoralize many in the electorate.
Now here's something that came out of her own mouth, on Fox News, as quoted by Politico. She's responding to Peggy Noonan's characterization of Gingrich as an "angry little attack muffin":
"They maybe subscribe such characterization of Newt via words like that, but they don't subscribe those to say Mitt Romney when he or his surrogates do the same thing," she said."
I rest my case.
(And no, that wouldn't even make sense if you changed "subscribe" to "ascribe.")