Sarah Palin has a way of reappearing right when she’s starting to be missed. And yes, some people, especially women, miss her in America’s heartland.
Palin appeared on Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News to give the Romney campaign a bit of advice. In true Palin form, she didn’t disappoint. When asked about voters’ choices this November between Romney and President Obama, Palin said, it’s about “free stuff or freedom. You cannot have both.”
When O’Reilly said that Republicans need to attack Obama with harsher words like “incompetent, dangerous, socialist,” Palin agreed.
“Those aren’t just buzzwords,” the former Alaska governor said. “Those are accurate descriptions of the commander in chief.”
“He should be very aggressive, and he should be adamant in his attacks on Obama’s record, which is so dismal, his plan, or lack of a plan of Obama’s, to get him out of these woeful times,” she added. “He needs to be severely aggressive.”
Palin fans need their fix, and she delivered on Tuesday night.
“The Romney campaign needs to be extremely aggressive in describing Obama's failures,” says Laura Harms, 42, a mother of two who lives in Taylor, Texas. “With the economic state of our country, this is an election that should not be lost by the Republicans. We need to take the message to the people and point out his incompetence and not mince words. We have to be aggressive.”
Palin wasn’t invited to speak at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. It was reported in late August that her contract with Fox News might not be renewed because of low ratings blamed on her.
In turn, Palin made a power play against Fox, writing on her Facebook page at the time, “I’m sorry Fox cancelled all my scheduled interviews tonight because I sure wanted to take the opportunity on the air to highlight Senator John McCain’s positive contributions to America, to honor him, and to reflect on what a biased media unfairly put him through four years ago tonight.”
Four years ago when McCain chose Palin as his running mate, she skyrocketed from an obscure Alaskan governor in her first term to a political superstar. Palin – and her family – were suddenly everywhere from reality television shows to NASCAR races and the punchline of many a late-night joke. She took to social media and gained a loyal following, which still follows her today. A recent comment? “I love how you speak the truth without worries of repercussion from the media or press. It’s hard to be the one who speaks when no one wants to hear!”
Many conservative women love Palin because, unlike Condoleeza Rice, she seemed like one of them – a pro-life mother and a small business owner who began her political career on the city council.
“Personally, I felt that having a woman running for higher office made women feel more aware, empowered even to some degree,” says Sheri Phillips, 40, a mother of two who lives in Sherwood, Ark.
If Palin could rise to the top in a man’s world, why couldn’t they? She certainly helped to open the door for many GOP female candidates to run for higher office.
In 2010, Palin supported Nikki Haley, who became South Carolina’s first female governor, Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s first female governor and Susana Martinez, New Mexico’s first female governor. That same year, Palin also endorsed New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte. This year, she endorsed Nebraska’s Deb Fischer in the Senate primary, which she won.
Not a woman to speak in measured tones, Palin brings red-meat anger to the political spectrum, which is far from Romney’s campaign message for a November win.
“While Sarah Palin would likely help Republicans connect with ‘mama grizzlies’ in the Southern and Midwestern states and more generally, spark higher levels of enthusiasm among the GOP base for Romney's candidacy, her campaigning would not likely be a net gain for her party,” says Lara Brown, a political science professor at Villanova University.
“The problem isn't her or even some of the Republican insiders who might malign her in the media. The problem is the vitriolic nature of the Democratic attacks that would almost instantly come to dominate all of the campaign coverage, if she were to engage in a significant amount of high-profile surrogate stumping on the trail.”
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker