Karl Rove: Not a Palin fan

at 12:07 PM ET, 08/25/2011


Karl Rove and Sarah Palin have been feuding for years. ((Steve Helber/Charles Dharapak) - AP Photos)
On Wednesday night, former Bush administration official Karl Rove accused 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin of having “enormous thin skin” for getting upset over speculation about her future plans.

“It is a sign of enormous thin skin that if we speculate about her, she gets upset,” Rove said on Fox News. “And I suspect if we didn't speculate about her, she’d be upset and try and find a way to get us to speculate about her ... I’m mystified.”

Rove had said over the weekend that he thought Palin would run for president; in response, her political action committee put up an unsigned blog post saying “DC pundits” were using false information specifically intended to mislead the American public.”

It’s not the first time Rove and Palin have sparred —and the two have usually mixed it up on the Fox News airwaves.

The fissure between Palin and Rove is a reflection of the bad blood between George W. Bush and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Palin backed Perry in last year’s gubernatorial primary; Rove backed and reportedly informally advised Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

But Rove’s skepticism of Palin’s political viability is also of a piece with the sentiments of other Republican elites, as Politico reported late last year. As a paid pundit for Fox News, Rove has an incentive to take his skepticism public — and Palin has a stake in responding if she wants to remain in the public eye, for financial or political reasons.

In July of 2009, Rove questioned Palin’s decision to step down as governor of Alaska. “It's a risky strategy,” he told Fox News. “Effective strategies in politics are ones that are so clear and obvious that people can grasp. It’s not clear what she's doing and why.”

In October of 2010, Rove told the British Telegraph that he wasn’t sure Palin had the “gravitas” to be president: “With all due candor, 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.”

Palin responded snarkily, saying, “Wasn't Ronald Reagan an actor? Wasn't he in ‘Bedtimes for Bonzo,’ bozo or something? ... I'm not in a reality show. I have eight episodes documenting Alaska's resources.”

She added in another interview, “Karl has planted a few other political seeds out there that are quite negative and unnecessary. You know what? I kind of feel like, why do they feel so threatened and so paranoid?”

Rove defended himself on Fox News, saying ”a confident candidate doesn’t get thrown off” by questions. And in a subsequent interview with New York Magazine, Rove mocked the show:

“Did you see that?” he says, adopting a high, sniveling Palin accent: “ ‘Holy crap! That fish hit my thigh! It hurts!’ ”
“How does that make us comfortable seeing her in the Oval Office?” he asks, disgusted. “You know—‘Holy crap, Putin said something ugly!’ ”

In September of 2010, the two sparred over Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell (R), who Palin supported and Rove disparaged. “If Sarah Palin wants to demonstrate her power and influence ... she ought to go to Delaware and campaign for her favorite Christine O'Donnell,” Rove said on “Fox News Sunday.”

In a subsequent September speech in Iowa, Palin came close to joking that Rove go... somewhere: “Karl, go to...here!” Palin said. “You can come to Iowa!” She added, “Karl Rove and the other leaders ... will see the light.”

In an interview around the same time, she said, “Well, bless his heart. You know, we love our friends, they're in the machine, the expert politicos.”

In November 2010, Rove said, “She’s got a problem with independents and a problem with Democrats ... [S]he's got to demonstrate that she's got an ability to unify the Republicans and reach outside the Republican ranks.”

In May, when Palin was launching her bus tour, Rove told Fox’s Greta van Susteren, “I don’t think she thinks the rules apply to her. ... I think this is an interesting way to run for president. ... There’s a difference between crowds and what you need to run a campaign.”

If Palin does run, criticism from the likes of Rove will only invigorate her supporters, who see her as an outsider assailed by conventional politicians. Just don’t expect him to have any inside information on her plans.

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