If you had any doubts that Tea Party spiritual leader Sarah Palin is not GOP establishment political maven Karl Rove’s favorite candidate — and that jockeying for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination has begun even before Tuesday’s votes have been cast — get rid of them now. Karl Rove has raised questions about Palin’s qualifications to sit in the Oval Office — and he does not mince words:
Karl Rove, the former senior adviser to George W Bush, has cast doubt on Sarah Palin’s viability as a White House candidate, questioning if the American people thought she had the “gravitas” for the “most demanding job in the world”.
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.
And he gets even more blunt as the interview published in England’s Telegraph progresses:
Mr Rove was asked if the 46-year-old Mrs Palin, who is among the front-runners for the next Republican nomination, would be a wise choice if the party wanted to seize the White House from President Barack Obama. He replied: “You can make a plausible case for any of them on paper, but it is not going to be paper in 2011. It’s going to be blood, it’s going to be sweat and tears and it’s going to be hard effort.”
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 jobs in the world’.”
Palin and Rove have been at loggerheads before. Rove backed some of the candidates that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Movement put out to political pasture in the tempestuous GOP primaries where many Republican establishment candidates took it on the chin. Rove has become a potent behind the scenes strategist and bank roller (via the independent political groups he runs) in campaign 2010 — once again greatly dominating the American political scene and thwarting Democrats’ political dreams.
There has also been considerable speculation that Rove will pick an establishment-type Republican candidate to back in 2012 and that his candidate will be battling Palin tooth and nail for the nomination. Some speculation has centered on his perhaps backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the top spot should she — as many expect she will — decide to go for it.
But it’s clear he symbolizes a part of the Republican party — the part of the party that Palin often talks about with considerable snark and outright disdain. Rove seemed particularly miffed that Palin-backed Tea Party movement candidate Christine O’Donnell pulled off an upset and got the nomination for GOP Senate candidate in Delaware. He essentially said “There goes our Senate majority” until he followed a great Republican tradition: he backtracked and ate most of his words once
Republican party chief strategist talk show host Rush Limbaugh blasted him on Limbaugh’s radio show for not backing Limbaugh-favorite O’Donnell. Limbaugh recently took another swipe at Rove.
Look for lines in the sand to continue to be drawn between Palin and Rove even more once the mid-term elections are over. It’s the Rove-Establishment wing versus the Limbaugh-Palin wing.
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Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.