By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist, one of the conservative movement's top leaders, sat down with U.S. News editors and reporters recently to talk about the lay of the political land. When talk turned to 2012 prospects, he had interesting takes on a number of contenders, but one name he didn't include on his list of those running was former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
When asked about a potential Palin candidacy, Norquist said he didn't think she's in it. He said:
I don't think Palin's running. She didn't go to CPAC. She had $100,000 to go speak to 600 people in Nashville instead of going to CPAC. That's not somebody who's running for president.
CPAC, of course, is the annual conservative confab that was held a couple of weeks ago, which Palin skipped. CPAC, Norquist said, "really is the lifeblood of the modern center-right," so no one actually eyeing a run would want to skip it. And the reference to 600 people in Nashville was about Palin's $100,000 speech to the tea party convention there a month ago. (To be clear, Grover was not being dismissive of the tea partiers, who he views as new blood for the conservative movement.)
He added that the way for Palin--or any contender for 2012--to get serious would be heavy involvement in 2010.
If Palin goes and campaigns in 30 House seats and helps elect 30 House people, then despite missteps and other things she could be back on the program. But if she just gives speeches and makes money and just from time to time shows up, then no.
Norquist isn't alone in his assessment about whether she's running. Palin booster John Ziegler was on Morning Joe Wednesday and said that "she has gone down a path that makes that absolutely, positively impossible in 2012, to beat Barack Obama." He noted that her Fox gig and "cozying up to people like Glenn Beck and elements of the tea party that I think she's rather naive about" won't help her with moderate and centrist voters critical to winning in 2012. Hot Air's Ed Morrissey also agreed. He blogged:
At least in 2010, Republicans need to have a big draft among disaffected independents in order to gain a governing coalition in Congress, and then they need to maintain that reach in 2012 if they want to make Barack Obama a one-termer. The nominee will have to have credibility with both the base and with independents in order to achieve the necessary cohesion and energy to defeat an incumbent President ... Palin’s moves since 2008 have gone in the opposite direction.
Palin is scheduled to address a Right to Life dinner in Ohio Friday and is going to campaign for a candidate in a GOP primary there. We'll see whether that's, as Norquist put it, a "time to time" commitment or part of a Nixon-in-'66 campaign push.
I'll post later on Norquist's take on the other GOP contenders, and you can read more of his interview with him in tomorrow's edition of U.S. News Weekly, our digital magazine (click here for a free four-week trial subscription).