Sarah Palin has emerged as one of Newt Gingrich’s most effective attack weapons this week, unleashing her fiercest Mama Grizzly to protect the former House Speaker from the GOP’s bloody intraparty warfare in the leadup to today’s Florida primary.
Although she will not give a formal endorsement, the former Alaska Governor has repeatedly urged her supporters to vote for Gingrich — if only to “rage against the machine” and “annoy a liberal.” Last night, Palin took to the Fox airwaves to accuse Establishment conservatives of trying to “crucify” the former House Speaker by “rewriting history.”
But Palin’s quasi-endorsement hasn’t gone over well with some of her fans. Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic points us to a heated debate going down on Palin’s Facebook page (her main soapbox) over her support for Gingrich.
Here’s a sample of some of today’s posts:
Mike Thompson: I have always supported Sarah Palin, however, Newt Gingrich is too much to stomach. I will have a hard time supporting Sarah Palin in the future if this is what she expects us to vote for.
Lauri Truesdale: I am very disappointed in your support of Newt. I am a life long conservative that could never vote for a serial cheater. He has a character flaw, plain and simple.
Kent Heaps: A Gingrich win is an Obama win…plain and simple. Cannot stand with you on this one Mama Grizzly.
Sheryl Johansen Watkins: Two lengthy affairs is not “petty personal” stuff. This is not from a PAC or Republican establishment; this is a wife, mum, and grandma who believes character counts.
Kristy Ben Tate: After watching Sarah’s appearance on Freedom Watch I was very disappointed to find that all her talk of not endorsing anyone and wanting the vetting of candidates to continue was a bunch of bull….It’s obvious that she only wants the campaign to go on so that maybe Newt will have a better chance at beating Romney, not because she wants it to be anyone’s race. It’s you support Newt at this point Sarah, so please stop treating us like we’re stupid and pretending you want the vetting to continue for all candidates.
This type of dissent is rare for a Facebook page that is typically a lovefest. Clearly, Gingrich’s marital indiscretions and past positions on issues like global warming, healthcare reform, and No Child Left Behind haven’t gone over well with some of Palin’s supporters.
As Friedersdorf points out, the Palin Facebook debate underscores the Tea Party’s key weakness during this election cycle: After promising grassroots conservatives that they would never again have to settle for a big-government Washington insider, Palin and other Tea Party leaders are asking their followers to do just that.
In a kind of Orwellian twist, the cottage political industry that emerged from the rise of the Tea Party is now its own Establishment, complete with operatives, PACS, and kingmakers who are now willing to sell out their voters in order to hold on to their influence. But for now, at least, it looks like the Tea Party rank-and-file still have a mind of their own.
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