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Sarah Palin: Could She Run as an Independent or Third Party Candidate?

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Sarah Palin talks a lot about the tea party.

On Fox News last week, she said, “I find inspiration in tea party patriots [and] those with common sense who aren’t playing a lot of games.”

She could be considered the tea party’s godmother. With her Sarah PAC and support for 2010 tea party candidates, Palin has generated a lot of good will, not to mention publicity, for a movement that began only two years ago. She also isn’t afraid to attack popular Republicans such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Further proof that Palin isn’t always a GOP team player: She is skipping the first GOP primary debate on May 2 to give a keynote address, “Tribute to the Troops with Sarah Palin,” at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colo. Some take this as a sure sign, along with her tanking poll numbers in key places like Iowa, that Palin will not seek the White House in 2012.

Could Palin, ever the rogue, be concocting a different plan?

What if Palin is building a grassroots army of patriots to help her undertake this mission? Palin, unlike any failed vice presidential candidate before her, has taken an opportunity and spun it into a gold mine. But to remain relevant in a crowded 2012 field of attention-seeking veteran politicians, Palin may have to make an unconventional move.

Although third-party candidates seldom win in America’s two-party system, they can certainly rain on political parades. At the same time, they can help down-ballot candidates by getting voters to the polls who might otherwise stay at home.

Palin certainly has many of the qualities of a third-party candidate – charismatic and passionate, with a status as an outsider intent on storming the barricades of the establishment.

Consider previous candidates with engaging and controversial personalities who attempted to carve their own path to the Oval Office.

Larger-than-life Theodore Roosevelt ran on his Bull Moose Party ticket in 1912. He won 27.4 percent of the popular vote and carried six states, totaling 88 electoral votes. Roosevelt’s candidacy split the Republican vote, and Democrat Woodrow Wilson won the election.

In 1948, Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat segregationist, a major draw in Southern states. Former Democratic governor George Wallace of Alabama ran in 1968 on the American Independent Party line. He remains the only third-party candidate since 1948 to win a state.

Ronald Reagan didn’t face just Jimmy Carter. He also had to run against John Anderson, who had run in the crowded Republican primary. When it looked certain that Reagan would win, Anderson jumped to an independent candidacy. He received support from Rockefeller Republicans, author Gore Vidal, television sitcom creator Norman Lear and even the editors of “The New Republic.”

One of the most prominent third-party candidates, perhaps, is Ross Perot. With his charts and nasal voice, he became a household name and the star of many “Saturday Night Live” skits, with Dana Carvey playing Perot. The billionaire Texan threw a wrench into George H.W. Bush’s re-election bid against Bill Clinton. He finished second in two states – Utah, ahead of Clinton, and Maine, ahead of Bush. Perot won 18.9 percent of the popular vote but no electoral votes.

He gave it another shot in 1996, but with lesser impact, on the Reform Party ticket. He garnered 8 percent of the popular vote.

Ralph Nader has run four times for president – twice as a Green Party candidate in 1996 and 2000 and twice as an independent, in 2004 and 2008.

For Palin to run as a tea party candidate, it would require money and keen organization. To become a legitimate third party, as opposed to its current status as a movement, the tea party would face a series of steep obstacles it likely could not scale by 2012.

For example, each state has its own ballot-access laws. Some states simply require a filing fee, but others have complex petition-gathering requirements for a party to become established, purposely aimed at keeping third parties off the ballot and protecting the elevated status of the major parties.

And the tea party isn’t showing any effort to become established.

That’s because the Republicans have figured out, for now, how to please the tea party.

“The tea party potentially forming a third-party movement would happen if they become completely disgusted with the Republicans,” said Dr. Jim Broussard, professor of history at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa.”That doesn’t seem likely now. Both in Washington and at the state level, most Republicans have figured out what people sent them to do.”

But what if the 2012 Republican nominee, maybe Mitt Romney or outgoing China ambassador Jon Huntsman, isn’t a tea party darling? Palin could emerge as the conservative populist alternative. Her best bet then would be to align with an established third party such as the Reform Party, like Pat Buchanan did in 2000, or run as an independent.

One downside of running as an independent? Absolutely no structure to rely on for support. But Palin already has a built-in voter, and fan, base. She has more than 2.7 million Facebook fans and 439,000 Twitter followers. She raises millions through her PAC, and gets massive media coverage from one tweet. She would likely have no problem covering the filing fees to get on the ballots in various states. Palin could use her social media tentacles to gather signatures on petitions in states that require such.

Politico has reported that she could set up a presidential base in Arizona. That might be the perfect spot to launch an independent bid. The tea party recently held a summit in the state, which Palin did not attend but endorsed. It’s also the state where Barry Goldwater revamped the modern-day conservative movement in the 1960s. Palin, in turn, could revolutionize the status of the independent candidate in Sen. John McCain’s back yard without playing by the Iowa and New Hampshire game.

Matthew Kerbel, professor of political science at Villanova University, said, “Her history suggests she would relish the opportunity to run without having to do the heavy lifting of campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire, and she would certainly want her supporters to come to her and demand that she run.”

Then again, Kerbel says, “She may be the first candidate in history to run for president in order to preserve their place as a pop culture figure.”

[Originally published on Politics Daily, March 9, 2011]

Written by suziparker1313

March 10, 2011 at 5:33 pm

‘True Grit’ Then and Now: Political Eye Patches and a Girl Named Mattie Ross

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“True Grit” is legendary in my neck of the woods.
Before Bill Clinton or Mike Huckabee, there was “True Grit,” a 1968 western novel about Arkansas by an Arkansan named Charles Portis.
Portis, now 77, worked as newspaper reporter but abandoned the deadline life to become a novelist. He struck gold with “True Grit,” his most successful novel about Mattie Ross, a feisty and fearless 14-year-old, who sets out to avenge her father’s death in Oklahoma’s Indian Territory.
A year after the book was published, John Wayne starred in the movie adaption and won an Academy Award — his only one — for his portrayal of legendary U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn.


true grit. jeff bridgesPortis
, a recluse who lives in Little Rock and shies away from media, is about to reach a new generation. On Wednesday, Ethan and Joel Coen’s remake of “True Grit” premieres with Jeff Bridges in the Cogburn role, Matt Damon as Le Beouf, a Texas Ranger, and, as Mattie, teen newcomer Hailee Steinfeld, who was chosen from 15,000 girls.
Portis, who has been called a modern-day Mark Twain, can only be happy. The Coen brothers’ $35 million remake is a much richer, smarter and truer adaption of Portis’ novel, with Steinfeld’s Mattie stealing the show.
The story takes place in 1880 in Fort Smith, Ark., a town near the Oklahoma border that shares more history with the Wild West than the Old South. Mattie, a ferocious protagonist, pairs up with Le Beouf and drunken bounty hunter Cogburn to search for her father’s murderer, Tom Chaney.
Wayne’s portrayal of Cogburn, a Civil War veteran who lost his eye and never “knew a dry day in his life,” wasn’t as gruff or edgy as Bridges’ rebooted version, which is similar to Portis’ vision of the character. Still, Wayne was The Duke and with that comes loyalty and even political controversy.
This past summer, the blog “American Thinker” wrote that Wayne, a vocal conservative, may be rolling in his grave over the remake. That’s because the Coens’ cast is made up of liberals (Bridges, Damon, and Josh Brolin, who plays Chaney) who support President Obama.

The blogger wrote, “If this film should achieve the level of success that many are predicting it will, it could open the door to other revisionist remakes. Imagine if you will Matt Damon starring in ‘Sergeant York,’ Sean Penn and George Clooney in ‘Big Jim McLain‘ or Jose [sic] Brolin playing George Gipp in ‘Knute Rockne, All-American.’ ”
A conspiracy also brews around Cogburn’s eye patch.
Wayne wore a patch over his left eye, which allowed him to view the world through his right one. That made sense, according to “American Thinker,” because of Wayne’s politics. Bridges, however, wears his patch over his right eye, allegedly allowing him to see the world . . . well, differently.
Bridges is aware of the patch brouhaha. When a Quincy, Mass., newspaper asked him about it, the Oscar-winning actor joked, “I’m a commie.” But then he simply explained, “I tried it on the right eye, and it felt good. But on the left eye, not so good.”
Wayne, of course, stirred the political waters back in his day. He was a conservative Republican who helped to create the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, and was elected its president in 1947. He was also avidly anti-communist and supported the House Un-American Activities Committee. His movies often reflected his beliefs, including 1952’s “Big Jim McLain,” about two investigators hunting down communists, and “The Green Berets,” a 1968 film in support of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, released when public outcry over the war was rising.
In 1968, Republicans lobbied for Wayne to run for national office, but he said no, thanks. He did support Ronald Reagan in his California gubernatorial runs in 1966 and 1970.
Wayne’s “True Grit” was produced at the height of the Vietnam War and can be viewed through a filter of 1960s radical politics and Wayne’s right-wing views. Even the Academy Award he won was tainted with controversy, and some observers still claim that Wayne didn’t deserve the award — it was simply a token Oscar for a Hollywood veteran.
The Golden Globes recently shunned the remake, but many critics believe it will earn Academy Award nominations.
As for Bridges and Damon and Brolin, they may support Democrats, but moviegoers will have a hard time finding any 21st century politics or political code words in the movie, except maybe a few from the Bible. Instead, the Coens stay strictly in the gun-slinging Arkansas of the 1800s, with Mattie Ross leading the charge with wit and a gun bigger than she is.
And for a little over two hours, that’s not a bad place to be.

Mike Huckabee: Serious Competition for Sarah Palin in 2012

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Sarah Palin may have met her political match in Mike Huckabee.

Both have been criss-crossing the country on book tours. Both hold degrees in communication. Both hunt and fish. Both use various media to hit their target audiences.

But while Palin often generates anger, Huckabee takes the Will Rogers road. He has an aw-shucks demeanor, freely cracking jokes, shaking hands and chatting with the media while Palin shuns reporters.

Already road-tested by a 2008 White House run, Huckabee, a former Arkansas governor and Baptist minister, may just be the strongest GOP candidate to take on Palin in a primary and President Barack Obama in a general election.

Huckabee, so far, ranks high in favorability polls.

A Quinnipac poll on Nov. 22 showed Huckabee in a statistical dead heat with Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.

In a Marist College poll on Nov. 24, Huckabee and Palin were virtually tied in popularity among Republicans who were not college graduates. But Huckabee pulled ahead significantly — 18 percent to Palin’s 9 percent — among respondents with college degrees. Huckabee came in second to Romney, who polled on top with 25 percent, among college-educated Republicans.
The high ratings mirror Huckabee’s numbers when he was governor. According to the yearly Arkansas Poll, Huckabee only dipped below 50 percent once from 1999 to 2006. In 2003, he hit a 47 percent approval rating, but the next year had 58 percent.

“He compares favorably to his leading competitors at the moment,” says Janine Parry, director of the Arkansas Poll at the University of Arkansas. “His unfavorable numbers are significantly lower, he’s penetrated the mainstream culture without becoming clownish, and he’s demonstrated a willingness – even eagerness – to be a practical, truly bipartisan leader. In this environment and in a general election at least, those seem like substantial assets.”

Huckabee’s career from Southern Baptist minister to politician is one of determination and ambition. The lesson for his opponents: He takes chances and he doesn’t give up easily.

From 1989 to 1991, Huckabee served as the youngest-ever elected president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention. While well-known in church circles, Huckabee was a complete unknown in the political arena. But yet he took on a political legend, Sen. Dale Bumpers, for the U.S. Senate in 1992. He lost, but he received 40 percent of the vote.

In 1993, then-GOP State Chairman Asa Hutchinson urged Huckabee to run in a special election for lieutenant governor after Bill Clinton left the governor’s office to become president and Lt. Gov.Jim Guy Tucker became governor.

Huckabee ran against attorney Nate Coulter and won by a razor-thin margin. He ran a campaign against the state’s dominant Democratic establishment with the slogan, “Unplug the Machine.” In November 1994, he was re-elected to a four-year term.

While Huckabee planned another Senate run in 1996 for retiring Democratic Sen. David Pryor’s seat, his plans changed when Tucker resigned as governor after he got caught up in the Clinton Whitewater scandal and was convicted of fraud.

Huckabee faced a legislature with 89 Democrats out of 100 legislators in the House and only four Republicans in the 35-seat Senate. Yet, Huckabee found a way to govern.

“Huckabee’s great gift as governor was to be pretty ideologically in sync with a state that was conservative on social issues but believed in government,” says Jay Barth, a political science professor at Hendrix College in Conway, Ark. “He took moderate, pro-government stances that were in step with the state and even on social issues, he didn’t push much.”

 

Barth cautions that Huckabee’s moderate stances on children’s health care and allowing children of illegal immigrants to attend college may not sit well with tea party voters who align with Palin.

During his 2008 presidential run, Huckabee played well as a candidate. He won the Iowa caucuses and came in second in South Carolina. He stayed in the race although Republicans were urging him to concede the primary to Sen. John McCain.

If he chooses to run again, Huckabee can claim Southern and Baptist credentials in Dixie and play the populist card in Iowa and New Hampshire. In California recently, he signed books at the Reagan Library — a tip of the hat to “The Great Communicator.”

In 2007, Ed Rollins, a Republican consultant and a Reagan national campaign manager, said, “Governor Huckabee has probably inspired me as much as Ronald Reagan. He had an ability to connect with people and he was a great communicator. I’ve looked for a long time for another candidate to do that.”

Meanwhile, Palin chose to stay in the heartland and South during her book tour and appeared in Huckabee’s Arkansas.

Huckabee’s weakness during the 2008 campaign was lack of money — something that Palin certainly knows how to generate. But those who know him say Huckabee is a quick study.

“Huckabee always learns from his defeats, whether they are political defeats or legislative defeats,” says Rex Nelson, Huckabee’s communications director while in the governor’s office. “He lost his first political race to U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers in 1992, adjusted and never lost another race in Arkansas. The 2008 race was one big learning experience for him since it was his first national race. If he seeks the nomination in 2012, he will be an even better candidate.”

Still, his Huck PAC has a lot less money than Palin’s or Romney’s. Huckabee had $194,578.01 on hand at the end of the last reporting period in November, compared to $1.2 million for Sarah PAC or $1 million for Romney’s Free and Strong America PAC.
But there are signs Huckabee is starting to shift gears.

In recent weeks, as Palin took her book to the Midwest and South and appeared in Huckabee’s Arkansas, Huckabee touted his book and became more vocal on current events, including WikiLeaks, tax cuts and health care. Earlier this year, Huckabee moved to Florida, a key presidential primary state, where he is building a $3 million beach house. He aligned himself last year with Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, a popular tea party candidate.

While Palin heads to Haiti this week and plans a trip to Israel next year, Huckabee has visited Israel more than 10 times as a pastor and a politician. He plans another trip in late January to Israel, similar to a trip he took earlier this year with Christian crooner Pat Boone. He is an ardent supporter of Israel and can talk at length about the problems it faces.

On his PAC’s website, Huckabee is trying to raise $15,000 by the end of the month. He has started to update his Facebook page and Twitter account more frequently. Social media is a tool Palin uses with great frequency to get out her message.

More than Romney or Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Barth sees Palin as Huckabee’s biggest obstacle in a Republican primary.

“She’s a fresher face than Huckabee,” Barth says. “She has really courted the tea party a little better than Huckabee. But if she doesn’t run, he is a strong, strong candidate for the nomination.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm