Romney supporters at CPAC pitching him as the anti-Palin

Do note, while HuffPo refers to “common” swipes at Palin in the halls of CPAC this year, their evidence consists of quotes from … two people. And one guy isn’t even guilty of a “swipe.” He says he likes her but simply fears she can’t win.

Even so, as I’ve argued many times before, this dynamic in the primaries is inevitable — even if she doesn’t run. Half the field will compete for the principled “true conservative” nomination (Palin, Huck, Santorum), the other half will compete for the moderate/managerial nomination (Mitt, Daniels, Huntsman), and then there’ll be a showdown. (Pawlenty and Gingrich are more or less trying to straddle the two.) Winner take all — unless he/she alienates the other camp so badly that some Republicans stay home in the general election, in which case game over. The “Palin” candidate will paint the “anti-Palin” as a squish who’ll get rolled by the left and the “anti-Palin” will paint “Palin” as incompetent and unelectable. Right? This is all old hat. But since “anti-Palin” supporters talking smack is always good for a freakout in the comments, let’s liven up the night a bit:

“Intelligence versus not-so-intelligent,” was the pitch by Ken Merritt, a Virginia-based Romney supporter with roots in Palin’s home state of Alaska. “Fluff versus not about fluff … [Palin] does a great show on TV, though.”

Swipes like these have been common during this year’s gathering of conservative activists. A no-show at CPAC for several years running, Palin has been a popular subject among the convention crowd, her absence interpreted either as an innocent scheduling conflict or, more often, evidence that she doesn’t feel the need to placate conservative voters…

“I would much rather have him than Palin,” said Bradley Gunther, a student at the University of Delaware whose college Republican group organized buses to Washington for the conference. “I think she is a good spokesperson for the conservative movement. She’s like Howard Dean for the Democrats: she gets people fired up but can’t win an election.”…

“He does go deeper into policy than any other candidate, and sometimes going deeper into policy, because he is so much more conversant, can give the perception that he’s not perfectly consistent,” Merritt said. “But what’s not to like about him? He has the experience and credentials to know what he’s doing as well as a business background and an organizational background. He is obviously the most intellectually-gifted one in the pack.”

Red State contributor Dan McLaughlin says of course Romney is the anti-Palin: Palin, after all, has principles. Mitch Daniels almost took a shot at Mitt too, goofing on his stiffness before backing off at the last moment. It’s campaign season, amigos — time to start throwing some punches. In fact, even the new head honcho of CPAC is getting into the mix, suggesting that Palin and Huckabee mustn’t be serious about running or else they’d have showed up this weekend, wouldn’t they? Zing!

For your viewing pleasure, a few minutes of Romney’s speech this morning indicting The One for helping to bring about new Hoovervilles. (Really?) Fox News pollsters asked Republican voters which potential nominees they think would make good presidents. Only Huckabee (55 percent) and Romney (54 percent) cracked majority support. Gingrich landed at 43 percent and Palin at just 40, with Jeb Bush behind her by a single point.