More than 13 months ago, I wrote a column that began: “Sarah Palin can be the Republican nominee in 2012. I am not saying she will be, but she can be. Those who underestimate her do so at their own risk.”
It was not the most popular column I ever wrote. I remember snickering and mockery from those who could not find actual vegetables to throw.
After all, as was widely believed at the time, Sarah Palin was an idiot. Her interview with CBS’s Katie Couric had proved that. And Palin’s approval rating as governor of Alaska, once so high, had plunged to 54 percent. (An approval rating I suspect President Barack Obama would love to have today.
Sarah Palin was a hick and a rube. She was a gun-toting, snow machine-riding pitbull with lipstick, with a family that was portrayed as somewhere between a reality show and white trash.
Now, more than a year later, I have not changed my mind about Palin’s political potential. This is not based on the polls — especially a recent one showing her in a 46 percent to 46 percent tie with Obama in a hypothetical 2012 face-off. I don’t believe such polls tell us anything meaningful.
I am basing my belief now, as back then, on Palin’s ability to connect with the base of her party. Name a bigger name in the Republican Party today. Heck, name any name in the Republican Party today.
And the most energized wing of her party — Republican tea partiers — has good reason to like her. At a February tea party convention in Nashville, Tenn., Palin told the crowd: “America is ready for another revolution, and you are a part of this.” Which set off one of many standing ovations.
Making fun of President Obama, Palin asked the crowd: “How’s that hope-y, change-y stuff working out for you?”
She believed what the crowd believed: It wasn’t working out very well.
Maybe she wrote those lines on her palm; I don’t know. But I don’t think the crowd cared, especially when Palin said: “This is about the people, and it’s bigger than any one king or queen of a tea party, and it’s a lot bigger than any charismatic guy with a teleprompter.”
Today, Palin is going around the country endorsing and making speeches for Republican candidates with some success. Tuesday night in Georgia, former Secretary of State Karen Handel, who was endorsed by Palin, got 34 percent of the vote, while former U.S. Rep. Nathan Deal, endorsed by Newt Gingrich, got 23 percent of the vote. The two will face each other in a runoff for the Republican nomination for governor next month. (Continues here at POLITICO)