Romney: I thought it was just super that Palin stepped on my presidential announcement

“In a lot of respects,” he says, “it’s the best thing that could happen to me” because it reduces the risk of overexposure during a long, long campaign. And of course, overexposure is one of your core concerns on the day you’re … launching your presidential campaign with a huge media event in a key primary state. Right?

Clearly, this guy is so anxious about alienating Palin’s devoted supporters ahead of the general election that he won’t swipe at her (publicly, at least) even if she calls him a gutless RINO who’ll be rolled by Democrats at every opportunity. Which, in his defense, isn’t a bad way to play it — witness the grumbling about Bachmann after Ed Rollins’s jabs at Palin today — but someone in the field’s going to have to show some spine by taking her on and I guess Romney’s decided his support is too thin for it to be him. Same goes for Pawlenty, probably. If I had to bet, I’d expect one of the longshots like Huntsman or Gary Johnson to do it in order to earn free media coverage, but I’m intrigued to see how Herman Cain handles it. Does he have enough grassroots credibility to be able to attack her without alienating her voters irretrievably? She has more governing experience than him so he’ll probably try to minimize her advantage by going after the fact that she quit halfway through her term.

As for Romney, he’s had not one but two encouraging polls in the last 24 hours. Today, Gallup found a surge in his “positive intensity score” in the wake of his announcement, putting him behind Bachmann and Cain albeit with much higher name recognition. And yesterday, Rasmussen found that 49 percent of likely voters think he’s qualified to be president versus 25 percent who think he isn’t. For Palin, the split was … 23/63. Someone’s going to end up making her electability an issue in the primary, but it probably won’t be Romney. The base would never forgive him for it, and he knows it.