Obligatory, for many reasons. One: Our resident Palin fans will relish every second. Two: It makes for a sweet undercard to tonight’s main event. Three: It’s part of a longstanding low-grade feud between Christie and Palin that began when he tweaked her on Jimmy Fallon’s show and has continued in fits and starts ever since. If it’s ever going to go from simmering to a full boil, this ought to do it. Four: Palin hitting Christie for playing into the media’s hands perfectly captures the Gingrich/Romney dynamic right now. Despite his own diversions from conservative orthodoxy over the years, Newt has become the de facto “true conservative” in the race partly because he’s running against the Ultimate RINO and partly because he’s good at flaming the bete noires of the base — the media, the GOP establishment, etc. To some extent he’s following the Palin playbook while Romney, as a supposedly electable centrist blue-state governor, is trying to follow Christie’s path to success. Gingrich isn’t as charismatic a populist as Palin, though, and Romney isn’t remotely as charismatic an establishmentarian as Christie. In a way, they’re running a watered-down version of what would have been a much more entertaining (and even nastier) race.
Via Philip Klein, three excerpts from her interview with Eric Bolling that’ll air later this evening on Fox Business. Boldface parts are mine:
On New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie calling Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich an “an embarrassment” to the Republican Party:
“I do care to take him to task — poor Chris. This was a rookie mistake. He played right into the media’s hands. Here’s a host that asked Chris, ‘Does Newt embarrass the party.’ I think he asked him twice, and there Chris played right into it and spewed that about Newt embarrassing the party. Sometimes if your candidate loses in just one step along this path, as was the case when Romney lost to Newt the other night and of course, Romney is Chris Christie’s guy, you kind of get your panties in a wad and you may say things that you regret later. And I think that that’s what Chris Christie did. His response to what the media was asking him was reflective of a lack of self-discipline. I’ve learned my lessons all along the way, too, and not responding, not playing into the media’s hands when they’re trying to get you to say something like is this candidate an embarrassment to your party?”
On if Christie was tricked into calling Gingrich an “embarrassment”:
“I think if Chris were asked about some of his past actions, taking a state helicopter to his kid’s baseball game, some people may say, well, that sort of embarrassed your party, Chris. And he would then be on the receiving end of a comment that maybe he wished that somebody kept as an inside thought and not blasting that to the rest of the nation. He’s been in office a year or two is all, and he’ll learn that the media goad you. They want you to say things like that in order to boost ratings and make it more of a reality show-type scenario that we’re watching in the GOP primary. And a comment like that just kind of played right on into that narrative.”
On how Democrats will use Christie’s comment against Gingrich:
“He just produced an ad for the Democrats. If Newt is the nominee, he just handed them free this negative PR ad that they’re going to incorporate into their negative scenario against somebody who came out there against HillaryCare back in his day, who came out balancing budgets, working with a Democrat governor, who came out cutting taxes and trying to rein in government growth in order to put the country on the right track back then, and has intentions of doing that today.”
True enough about Christie producing attack-ad fodder for Democrats with that line about Newt but we’re waaaaay down that road already on Romney thanks to Gingrich’s attacks on Bain. As for her point about “reality shows” and playing into the media’s hands, I’m curious to see whether Christie will let that lie or if he’ll get snotty with her in his response. You would think that the last thing Romney needs is for one of his top surrogates to start feuding with a grassroots favorite, but since he seems totally incapable of generating any excitement on the stump himself, maybe he’ll unleash Christie as an attack dog to start scoring points on Newt and his surrogates. That’s if Christie’s willing to do it, of course: The more bridges he burns now, the harder things get for him in 2016 or 2020.
Stay tuned. Click the image to watch.