Fox 2012 Primary: Palin vs. Rove

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An October 31 Politico article reported that Fox News contributor Karl Rove seems to be among GOP leaders who are on a "mission" to "halt" Fox News contributor Sarah Palin's "momentum and credibility," viewing her potential 2012 presidential nomination as a "disaster in waiting." Indeed, Rove and Palin have recently traded attacks, with Rove reportedly suggesting that Palin lacked the "gravitas" required to run for president.

Palin, Rove have recently sparred over Palin's qualifications to be president

Politico: Rove seems to be among GOP leaders who have "highlighted an urgent task that they will begin in earnest as soon as the elections are over: Stop Sarah Palin." From an October 31 Politico article:

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.

"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."

[...]

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.

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.

Rove reportedly suggested that Palin lacks the "gravitas" required to be president. In an October 27 article, the U.K. Telegraph reported: "Expressing the strongest public reservations about the conservative star made by any senior Republican figure, Mr Rove said it was unlikely that voters would regard someone starring in a reality show as presidential material." The Telegraph quoted Rove suggesting that Palin lacks "a certain level of gravitas" required to be president. From The Telegraph:

Expressing the strongest public reservations about the conservative star made by any senior Republican figure, Mr Rove said it was unlikely that voters would regard someone starring in a reality show as presidential material.

In two weeks, the former governor of Alaska launches a cable television series exploring her home state's wilderness.

"With all due candour, appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery Channel, I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of 'that helps me see you in the Oval Office'," Mr Rove told The Daily Telegraph in an interview.

He added that the promotional clip for Sarah Palin's Alaska could be especially detrimental to any political campaign. It features the mother of five in the great outdoors saying: "I would rather be doing this than in some stuffy old political office."

Mr Rove, who remains a major force on the US political scene, also implied that Mrs Palin lacked the stomach for the rigours of a presidential primary campaign, which will begin early next year before the first polls in 2012.

[...]

He said Mrs Palin had done a "terrific job" in 2008 when Senator John McCain took her from near obscurity to the vice-presidential nomination, but added: "Being the vice-presidential nominee on the ticket is different from saying 'I want to be the person at the top of the ticket'.

"There are high standards that the American people have for it [the presidency] and they require a certain level of gravitas, and they want to look at the candidate and say 'that candidate is doing things that gives me confidence that they are up to the most demanding job in the world'."

Palin: Rove "has planted a few other political seeds out there that are quite negative and unnecessary"; suggests Rove is "paranoid." On the October 31 edition of Fox News' On the Record, Palin discussed both the Politico article claiming that GOP leaders are concerned about Palin and Rove's comments in The Telegraph. Palin stated that Rove "has planted a few other political seeds out there that are quite negative and unnecessary" and added: "You know what? I kind of feel like, why do they feel so threatened and so paranoid?" Palin also said that Rove falsely called her upcoming television series a "reality show."

Palin, responding to Rove's "gravitas" comment: "Umm, wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor?" On the October 31 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Palin about Rove's comments in The Telegraph that "there are high standards that the American people have for it [the presidency] and they require a certain level of gravitas." Palin responded: "You know, I agree with that, that those standards have to be high for someone who would ever want to run for president, like, umm, wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn't he in Bedtime for Bonzo, Bozo?"

Palin attacked Rove during speech in Iowa

Tapper: "Some observers" at a Palin speech in Iowa "thought Palin was jokingly approaching the precipice of telling Rove to go to hell, and then backing off. " From a report by ABC News' Jake Tapper on Palin's comments during a September 17 speech to the Iowa Republican Party:

On Friday night, Palin spoke at a major Iowa Republican Party fundraiser in Des Moines, Iowa, the Ronald Reagan Dinner, she went after Republicans bashing conservatives and the Tea Party movement.

"Unsuccessful GOP campaigns and deflated GOP pundits: Remember, attitudes are contagious," she said. "So, make sure yours are worth catching."

She referred to how "expert Beltway pundits" are "all bent out of shape right now," and said she doesn't know how the machine works, and isn't sure if she wants to know given how wrong some have been about elections in states such as Massachusetts, Delaware and Kentucky.

But if she were in that hierarchy, she said, she would send conservative stars on the road, some to the South, some to the East, and some to the West.

"And Karl!" she continued, her tone changing. "Karl, go to...here! You can come to Iowa!"

Some observers thought Palin was jokingly approaching the precipice of telling Rove to go to hell, and then backing off.

[...]

She continued: "...And Karl Rove and the other leaders who will see the light and realize that these are just the normal hard-working patriotic Americans who are saying no, enough is enough. We want to turn this around and we want to get back to those time-tested truths that are right for America."

NY Times: "Palin delivered what she called a 'quick woodshed moment,' criticizing Karl Rove and other leading Republicans." In an article about Palin's Iowa speech, The New York Timesreported on September 18: "In her speech, Ms. Palin delivered what she called a 'quick woodshed moment,' criticizing Karl Rove and other leading Republicans as failing to rally behind some of the party's newest crop of nominees by suggesting that some of the candidates could not be elected in November."

NY Times: Rove "viewed with some suspicion by the new forces driving the party, in particular" Palin. The New York Times reported on September 25 that Rove's stance on O'Donnell "prompted blistering criticism from activists and Ms. Palin, who, in a 'woodshed moment' clearly directed at least in part at Mr. Rove during a recent speech in Iowa, called for party unity, asking, 'Did you ever lose a big game growing up?'" From the Times:

Mr. Rove has at times warned against insurgent candidates who in his view would reduce Republican chances of winning a seat. And as the embodiment of the inside-Washington power structure, he and his associates are viewed with some suspicion by the new forces driving the party, in particular former Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska and the Tea Party activists who eschew the sort of big-tent, top-down party order Mr. Rove stands for.

Tensions boiled over recently when Mr. Rove publicly criticized as unelectable the Tea Party-backed candidate who won the Republican Senate primary in Delaware, Christine O'Donnell. His stance prompted blistering criticism from activists and Ms. Palin, who, in a "woodshed moment" clearly directed at least in part at Mr. Rove during a recent speech in Iowa, called for party unity, asking, "Did you ever lose a big game growing up?"

Rove and Palin sparred over O'Donnell

Rove reportedly lobbied tea party to endorse Castle in Republican primary. In his book, The Backlash, Media Matters senior fellow Will Bunch writes (pages 291-295) that according to 9-12 Delaware Patriots executive director Russ Murphy, in the early stages of the campaign, Rove met with a group of tea party activists and urged them to support Rep. Mike Castle's (R-DE) Senate campaign. In an MSNBC appearance, Bunch said that meeting occurred in December. O'Donnell herself made the same claim during a September 15 interview on Fox & Friends.

Palin endorsed O'Donnell. On the September 9 edition of Sean Hannity's radio show, Palin endorsed O'Donnell, after having earlier re-tweeted a positive statement about O'Donnell from radio host Tammy Bruce.

O'Donnell credited Palin for making the difference in her campaign. Following O'Donnell's primary victory, on the September 15 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, host George Stephanopoulos asked O'Donnell, "Did Sarah Palin make the difference here?" O'Donnell responded, "Yeah, she did." O'Donnell also stated that Palin "stood up and so boldly made a statement that she supported me."

Following O'Donnell's primary win, Rove said O'Donnell will have to explain "checkered background"; she does not "evince the characteristics of rectitude and truthfulness and sincerity and character." On the September 14 edition of Hannity, Rove said: "One thing that Christine O'Donnell is now going to have to answer in the general election that she didn't have to answer in the primary is her own checkered background." He later said:

ROVE: I've met her. I'm not -- I've got to tell you, I wasn't, frankly, impressed as her, you know, abilities as a candidate. And again, these serious questions about how does she make her living, why did she mislead voters about her college education, how come it took her nearly two decades to pay her college bill so she could get her college degree. How does she make a living? Why did she sue a well-known and well-thought-of conservative think tank?

Rove went on to criticize "candidates who, at the end of the day, while they may be conservative in their public statements, do not evince the characteristics of rectitude and truthfulness and sincerity and character that the voters are looking for."

Palin told Rove to "buck up" about O'Donnell's primary win. On the September 15 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Jon Scott asked Palin about Rove's criticism of O'Donnell. Palin stated: "Well, bless his heart. You know, we love our friends, they're in the machine, the expert politicos. But my message to those who say that the GOP nominee is not electable, or that they're not even going to try, well, I say, 'Buck up. You know, buck up.'" Later, Palin said:

PALIN: I have absolutely nothing against Karl Rove or any of the guys who have much fatter political resumes than I will ever have, but I just want these fellows, they need to realize that the time for primary debate now is obviously over, and it's time for unity, because the time for choosing is near. ... So it is time to put aside internal power grabs and greed and egos within the party and to fight united for what's right and beneficial for all Americans.

Palin: "[I]t wouldn't be prudent of me either to get into a tussle with Karl Rove ... but what the heck, let's go ahead and do it." On the September 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Palin again responded to Rove's comments about O'Donnell. Palin stated: "Well, it wouldn't be prudent of me either to get into a tussle with Karl Rove, as you say, but what the heck, let's go ahead and do it." Palin continued:

PALIN: These - some of these good ol' boys - and I have nothing against Karl Rove personally. You know, he's the expert. But, Bill, some of these folks, they are saying that people like Christine O'Donnell and others -- tea party Americans - can't win, because they don't want them to win. Because they know that a Christine O'Donnell, a Joe Miller from Alaska, in gubernatorial races like Susanna Martinez and Nikki Haley -- these folks are going to shake it up. And they are going to do what's right for America, not necessarily what is right for a political party machine.

After host Bill O'Reilly called Rove a "conservative Republican" and argued that Rove preferred a "more moderate candidate" who could win in Delaware, Palin responded: "I don't buy that at all. I think that some of those in the hierarchy of the political machine - on both sides of the aisle - they are very much in to control and titles and egos and everything else. And I'm not saying that, again, about, personally, Karl Rove. But I think that that's just inherently in the nature of the hierarchy of a political machine."

Rove challenged Palin to "demonstrate her political power" and get O'Donnell "across the finish line by campaigning with her in Delaware." On the September 19 edition of Fox News Sunday, Wallace asked Rove if Palin "perhaps is now the frontrunner for the Republican nomination?" Rove replied that Palin is "one of the frontrunners. I don't know if she's the frontrunner." He later stated: "If she wants to demonstrate her political power, go to Delaware and take this candidate whom she's backing and get her across the finish line by campaigning with her in Delaware." From the September 19Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: What does -- does this mean somebody like Sarah Palin moves up and perhaps is now the frontrunner for the Republican nomination?

ROVE: Oh, I -- look, I think the vice presidential nominee of the party in 2008, if she runs in 2012, is a -- is a -- you know, one of the frontrunners. I don't know if she's the frontrunner.

And again, I repeat. Look, there are several geological ages to come and go before that race shapes up. Who at this point in 2006 was saying, "Oh, Barack Obama's going to be the nominee of the Democratic Party in 2008?" I mean people are narrowly focused on 2010.

Look, if Sarah Palin wants to demonstrate her power and influence, she ought to -- where we started was Delaware. She ought to go to Delaware and campaign for her favorite Christine O'Donnell. She's tweeted on her behalf and she's mentioned her in a speech in Des Moines, Iowa.

If she wants to demonstrate her political power, go to Delaware and take this candidate whom she's backing and get her across the finish line by campaigning with her in Delaware. Sarah Palin has enormous magnetism and a big following. And let her employ it in the field on behalf -- in the front lines on behalf of the candidate that she cares so much about.

Rove: O'Donnell's loss "proves a lesson." Discussing O'Donnell's loss during Fox News' November 2 election coverage, Rove again criticized O'Donnell. Rove said, "It gave me no pleasure to say that she was unlikely to win, but this again proves a lesson," and then stated:

ROVE: This is a candidate who was right on the issue, but had mishandled a series of questions raised by the press early on in the race about her background and previous statements. And she said things to the newspapers and local stations that were not credible; she started to clean it up late in the campaign, but too late, apparently.

Palin: "I look forward to Karl Rove and others looking at" exit polling "showing that Mike Castle even would have lost to Chris Coons." Later during Fox's November 2 election coverage, co-host Megyn Kelly discussed O'Donnell's loss and said to Palin: "Karl Rove, as you know, predicted that Christine O'Donnell would not win this race. ... And some people looked at your endorsement of her as helping her win the primary in a state in which they did not feel she could win the general." Palin replied: "Well, I look forward to Karl Rove and others looking at what CNN is reporting and other networks reporting, that exit polling is showing that Mike Castle even would have lost to Chris Coons. So it'll be interesting to see what their take is on that." From Fox News' election coverage:

KELLY: Karl Rove, as you know, predicted that Christine O'Donnell would not win this race, as soon as she won the Republican primary. And some people looked at your endorsement of her as helping her win the primary in a state in which they did not feel she could win the general. They thought Mike Castle, who is more moderate of a Republican, would win. And that perhaps Christine O'Donnell winning that has cost the Republicans the seat.

PALIN: Well, I look forward to Karl Rove and others looking at what CNN is reporting and other networks reporting, that exit polling is showing that Mike Castle even would have lost to Chris Coons. So it'll be interesting to see what their take is on that. But there was never any guarantee that a hardcore conservative would win in a deep-blue state like Delaware.

While CNN.com reported that "the voters who turned out today said they would still probably have sent Coons to Washington over Castle, backing him 44-43 percent," CNN's exit poll showed that when voters were asked about their "Senate vote if the candidates were" Coons or Castle, voters chose Castle by a 45 percent to 42 percent margin. And as Politico's Ben Smith noted, "The actual Coons-Castle race would have been an entirely different ballgame, and one in which public polls had universally favored Castle."

Palin, Rove have used Fox to raise money for their PACs

Palin's PAC raised nearly $5M during 2010 election cycle. According to OpenSecrets.org, Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, has raised nearly $5 million during the 2010 election cycle. The Associated Press reported on October 12 that "Palin raised more than $1.2 million for her political action committee during the last quarter, giving $93,500 to conservative candidates and causes ahead of the looming midterm elections in which she's played a major role."

Rove's group reportedly raised $24 million during past seven months. According to OpenSecrets, Rove's SuperPAC, American Crossroads, has raised more than $24 million in the past seven months. As CBS.com reported, American Crossroads' nonprofit group, Crossroads GPS, "doesn't have to give details about its funders," but, "together, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS have said they intend to spend a total of $65 million dollars before the elections."

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