The big news today is that the location of Sarah Palin’s visit to Iowa over the Labor Day weekend has been changed to accommodate a larger-than-initially-anticipated crowd. Many in the political class, including the event’s organizer, believe the former Alaska Governor intends to use the opportunity to announce that she will be running for President.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good Sarah Palin speech as much as the next guy and she could certainly bring a lot of good things to the debates, despite her thin resume. And yes, it is thin. I’m not a hater, but forgive me when I say that a half-term governor and reality TV star may not be the best foot the GOP can put forward. All that aside though, the truth of the matter is that a Palin candidacy will most likely have two effects: She will continue to make millions of dollars via TV and book contracts; and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee.
Why Romney? Well, the tea party is a formidable movement with motivated and reliable Caucus and Primary voters (see 2010 Republican primaries for House and Senate candidates). However, splitting their vote between three top-tier candidates (Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Palin) will only ensure that the singular moderate in the race will win the nomiation, especially if Bachmann, Perry, and Palin all endure to the South Carolina and Florida primaries.
Consider 2008. The more moderate Arizona Senator John McCain put all his eggs in the New Hampshire primary, similar to the strategy Romney seems to be employing this time around. Huckabee scored somewhat of a surprise victory here in Iowa, with the more-conservative-in-2008-version of Mitt Romney finishing second. McCain then won New Hampshire and needed a South Carolina victory to propel him to the nomination.
Competing only with the grossly-mismanaged campaign of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for the moderate vote, which had now unified behind him, McCain won South Carolina. Conservatives in the state were still split between Romney, Huckabee, and former Tennessee Senator Fred Thompson, who had stayed in the race despite poor finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire. McCain then took his momentum to Florida and, with the recent endorsement of then-Governor (and now-former Republican) Charlie Crist, won the Sunshine State and the Republican nomination.
My advice to Governor Palin? Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. If you want to see a real, conservative leader moving into the White House in January 2013, then use your visit to Iowa to announce your endorsement of one of the candidates already in the race. If you further splinter the Conservative/Tea Party vote, the more-moderate-in-2012-version of Mitt Romney will be our standard bearer next year.
Think about it…
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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