WASHINGTON — In two short years, Sarah Palin has gone from being the belle of the Republican ball to a near pariah among the party elite and its supporters, with many now openly dismissing her as a credible presidential candidate as she continues to weigh a run for the White House.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the latest Republican to suggest that Palin doesn’t have what it takes to mount a successful bid as she communicates her message almost exclusively via Twitter and Facebook and makes appearances only on friendly media outlets like Fox News.
Americans need an unfiltered look at the people who want to occupy the Oval Office, Christie said.
“They want somebody who is going to speak straight to them, and they want to ask you questions and they want unguarded moments,” Christie said Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation.
“I think if she wants to prove she’s ready for this, you’ve got to have some unscripted moments.”
The criticism was harsher at a recent fundraising dinner in South Carolina, a key early primary state, where party faithful told McClatchy Newspapers that the former Alaska governor lacks the experience and knowledge to run a successful bid for president, never mind govern.
Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota lawmaker, spoke at the event and was lauded by those in attendance as “Sarah Palin with a brain.”
Palin’s “major weakness is that she needs to bone up on how the government works,” Don Long of Lake Wylie, S.C., told a reporter from the newspaper group. “I don’t know if she’s done as much of that as she needs to.”
“She’s not really creative,” added Swain Shepperd of Rock Hill. “She just repeats what’s already been said by others.”
Even as she plans a trip to India next month to attend a conference and speak on her vision of America, 2011 has not proven to be a great year for Palin so far as her star continues to fall.
There’s even a recent Canadian element to her woes — her scheduled appearance at a fundraiser for two hospitals in Hamilton has been cancelled due to complaints from potential donors.
It was reminiscent of the situation a few weeks earlier when Palin’s daughter, Bristol, was removed from a sexual health panel at a university in St. Louis, MI, after students protested against paying her a speaker’s fee. The panel was going to discuss abstinence and preventing teen pregnancy.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll last month suggested Palin’s unfavorability rating stands at 56 per cent, its highest level ever, as she loses serious ground among the country’s all-important independent voters. Other polls suggest she’d still win the support of about one in five Republicans in a battle for the nomination.
Nonetheless, the Republican establishment has distanced itself from Palin, fearful she can’t possibly beat U.S. President Barack Obama in 2012. Some have even been directly challenging some of her opinions.
Mike Huckabee, the former Arkansas governor who’s also pondering a run for the White House, has repeatedly chided both Palin and Bachmann for their attacks against First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to combat childhood obesity. Palin has called Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign an attempt to impose a “nanny state” on Americans.
“What Michelle Obama is proposing is not that the government should tell you that you can’t eat dessert,” Huckabee, who lost 100 pounds after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2003, said Sunday on Fox News.
“What Michelle Obama has proposed is that we recognize that we have a serious obesity crisis — which we do.”
He prefaced his remarks with an insistence he’s not “in a war” with Palin, Bachmann or Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio personality who said last week Obama didn’t look like she followed her own dietary advice.
Christie also called criticism of Obama’s campaign “unnecessary” on Sunday.
“I think it’s a really good goal to encourage kids to eat better…I think the First Lady is speaking out well,” he said.