During a Tuesday night Fox News interview, Sarah Palin told South Carolinians that if she were voting in their primary this Saturday, she would cast her ballot for Newt Gingrich. [see the interview below this post
Technically, that is an endorsement, but it was qualified by her desire to see Newt win in South Carolina expressly for the purpose of seeing that Republicans continue to vet the candidates. According to Palin;
“More debates, more vetting of candidates because we know the mistake made in our country four years ago was having a candidate that was not vetted, to the degree that he should have been,”.
“I want to see that taking place this time because America is on this precipice — it’s that important. We need this process to continue.”
On January 9th, Sarah Palin’s husband Todd, came out and directly endorsed Newt when he released the following statement;
“Newt Gingrich is a true leader, which he has proven not only since the beginning of his campaign, but throughout his career,”
Not long after that, Palin had offered great praise for Rick Santorum and his consistent conservatism. For a while it looked like she might be leading towards a full-fledged endorsement of Santorum. But that was not the case.
This recent quasi-endorsement of Gingrich though, is the first time that Sarah Palin has actually suggested that a group of voters come out to vote for a specific Republican presidential candidate. But it is clear that her call to arms in South Carolina was merely meant to produce a result that would force the Republican nomination to forge ahead and continue testing the candidates. As a Palinite, I found myself appreciating Palin’s sentiments. It is one which I myself expressed when early on in the process, I participated as a spectator who was giving all the candidates a chance to woo me over. While I had my favorites, I did not want to merely give my endorsement away. I wanted the person I endorse to earn the nomination and prove themselves. Since then, I don’t know if any candidate has really earned my endorsement, but based upon the issues and the approach that I have heard each of the candidates claim they would take reagrding those issues, I did endorse Newt Gingrich. However, I have no problem with him still having to work for the nomination and truly earn it.
Palin is right. In the end, the tougher this process, the better our candidate will be…..whoever it is.
Meanwhile, the Gingrich campaign did not waste a moment in exploiting the qualified endorsement by Palin. Gingrich campaign spokesman R.C. Hammond told NBC News .
“We think its a pretty darn clear call to arms,”
Newt’s camp believes it is a call to arms directed at conservatives who many believe can derail the nomination hopes of Mitt Romney if only they got behind one of his opponents instead of splitting their support between three alternatives to Romney. In the case of Gingrich, he believes that he is the conservative that has the best shot to consolidate that conservative support to win the nomination and then defeat President Obama.
Shortly after Palin’s pitch to South Carolina voters, Gingrich posted the following twitter message;
Over at Conservatives4Palin.com, one of the leading web-based, pro-Palin organizing networks, some Palinistas were not ready to accept that Palin still won’t be running for President herself in 2012 and were quite adamant about the fact that Sarah’s statement was not endorsement of Newt but rather an endorsement of the process continuing. And some even suggested that she wants it to continue because Palin may still actually jump in and run;
According to Min Max
One C4P participant wrote;
“The longer it takes, the longer she can wait to make her move into the race to take the rest of the delegates in the rest of the states. It is a beautiful strategy.”
Others were realistic and excepted Palin’s statement for what she actually meant.
tjd4life for wrote:
“She is right! This thing has to continue. We don’t need a coronation right now. If you live in SC, the first thing I would tell you to is vote your conscience. Always do that, but if you want your vote to count and you are in the non-Romney camp, you have to vote for Newt. No if’s and’s or but’s.”
Other comments from Palin supporters applauded her positioning of Newt as the candidate to beat Romney with.
friskyness responded to Palin’s move this way;
“Newt is the only one that can beat Obama! His debates are spectacular! Our goal is to oust Obama. We can’t do it with mushy Romney!”
What will be quite interesting here, is the speed in which things can change if Newt does actually win South Carolina.
Although Mitt Romney will still be the likely nominee, if Gingrich does upset Mitt in the Palemtto State primary, the political world will most certainly be talking about the Republican nomination contest being a totally new and different race. And it will be. But until Newt can capitalize on his support and momentum it will all be for naught.
Right now Newt Gingrich needs a clear message and theme that can connect with voters and allow them to better relate to him. He needs to show that he is a steady political hand who is not vulnerable to the mistakes of political novices. Establishing an effective campaign organization that controls the story and message, while raising the money, doing the proper opposition research, and developing rapid response damage control teams, will all help Newt exploit any success that he could have from a surprise win in South Carolina. However, the former Speaker of the House is still not convinced that the most basic aspects of conventional campaign management apply to him.
As someone who endorsed Newt for President, I hope he is right. Unfortunately, I just don’t think he is and while Sarah Palin’s praise of him will help, Newt still does not realize how much his lack of discipline is failing to maximize the benefits that Palins’s words afford him.
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