Thursday, June 09, 2011

Elephant Dung #35: Palin's chief of staff slams Bachmann advisor Ed Rollins

Tracking the GOP Civil War

By Michael J.W. Stickings

 (For an explanation of this ongoing series, see here. For previous entries, see here.)

Ed Rollins struck first, calling Sarah Palin not "serious" and saying that his soon-to-be candidate (?), Michele Bachmann, looks good by comparison.

Needless to say, that didn't go over well with the Palin camp:

"Beltway political strategist Ed Rollins has a long, long track record of taking high profile jobs and promptly sticking his foot in his mouth," said Sarah PAC chief of staff Michael Glassner in an emailed statement. "To no one's surprise he has done it again, while also fueling a contrived narrative about the presidential race by the mainstream media. One would expect that his woodshed moment is coming and that a retraction will be issued soon."

Oooh. Aaah.

Rollins was right about Palin, if not so much about Bachmann, but it seems to me that his intention was not to much to dismiss Palin altogether but to spin his candidate as something other than a Palin clone or, worse, a lesser Palin, an unsatisfactory replacement for the real thing. So he notes that Palin isn't serious while Bachmann is, that Bachmann has extensive experience while Palin doesn't.

Will it work? Maybe. If Palin doesn't run, and she likely won't, there's a huge opening for Bachmann to emerge as the preferred right-wing (i.e., Republican mainstream) alternative to Romney and perhaps Giuliani. Pawlenty is trying hard to be that altnerative by stressing his conservative bona fides (or making them up on the go), but he lacks Bachmann's dynamism, charisma, and Tea Party appeal.

But it will be hard for Bachmann to make her mark with Palin hovering over the race and sucking the energy out of the Republican field by dominating media coverage. The longer she hovers, without formally announcing one way or the other, the better it is for Romney, who remains the frontrunner without a credible right-wing opponent (other than Pawlenty, perhaps), but the worse it is for Bachmann, who at some point needs to jump in and stake out her territory while attracting as much coverage as possible. Rollins knows this, surely, and what he said was intended to drive in the wedge to promote Bachmann at Palin's expense, encourage the media to dismiss Palin (as if that's possible), and add to the various Republican efforts to destroy Palin's credibility.

Ultimately, there will be peace between Palin and Bachmann, and Palin may even endorse her, but until Palin gets out of the way, we can probably expect more of this to come.

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