I met [organizer Ken] Crow in Iowa this month (I’ve been unsuccessful reaching him today) and he struck me as a classic Tea Party archetype — an amateur with big Field of Dreams ambitions. He made me well aware of all the projects he was working on but seemed a little laconic for a guy putting on a mega-rally.
“It’s gonna be televised on C-Span,” he said, “and maybe Fox, too.”
Reading up on Crow today, we find that he’s a talky activist prone to showing how much he knows. For example, on Palin: “I know for a fact she ain’t gonna run.” That’s the guy bringing Palin to Iowa for an event that reporters are attending because they wonder whether Palin will run!
Let’s sum up. The organizer, who should be building hype about an impending announcement in order to promote his event, is inexplicably going around telling people that it ain’t happening. Meanwhile, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Christine O’Donnell has become for many a symbol of “tea-party overreach” (as one of our Headlines commenters put it this morning), the organizers went ahead and apparently booked her (twice!) to appear onstage before Palin, which would have handed the media a “tea partiers are unelectable!” angle on a silver platter. In fact, four different news outlets — RCP, NBC, CNN, and Politico — are claiming that O’Donnell’s appearance was one of the issues in this morning’s drama, with CNN adding this:
The Palin source said O’Donnell’s representatives misled the tea party group about the extent of the governor’s relationship with O’Donnell.
O’Donnell’s representatives told event organizers that she would be in Iowa on the date of the rally and would like to come by and “say hi” to Palin, the source said. O’Donnell was then added to the speaking agenda.
The source told CNN that O’Donnell aides lied to organizers and said Palin had been communicating via text message with O’Donnell about the rally.
“The governor hasn’t spoken to her in a year,” the Palin source said of O’Donnell.
See Ace for more on the politics of inviting O’Donnell and then read R.S. McCain expressing understandable exasperation that a triumphant moment on Saturday would be complicated by leaks and fingerpointing — some of which came via on-the-record statements to reporters by none other than Ken Crow. No wonder Palin’s team was considering walking away. When you’ve got the organizer of the event hinting to the media that you pressured him into canceling another speaker, why do him a favor by sticking around and making his event a success?
As for why Crow thought it was a good idea to invite O’Donnell in the first place, maybe he figured it’d be okay since she was, after all, at one point a tea-party star who won the Delaware primary. Whether and when she lost that stature, I’m not sure; maybe Crow wasn’t either. Last year, before the primary with Castle, it was evidence of utmost RINO-ism to suggest O’D was a poor candidate with a thin record and unlikely to win in a blue state. Now, judging by the comments today in Headlines, it’s nearly universally agreed that she shouldn’t be onstage Saturday. Maybe that’s simple electoral politics at work — Palin needs centrists to win and that’s not O’Donnell’s core constituency, to put it mildly — but then those same calculations applied in Delaware and ended up not mattering somehow. And of course Palin herself endorsed O’Donnell in the primary, which may have led Crow to think a speaking invite would be copacetic. Whatever the answer, it’s a good sign for her campaign that Team Palin is savvier about the optics of this sort of thing than the Crows of the world.