Monday, July 18, 2011

CLINGING TO GUNS, RELIGION, AND SARAH

They went for Ronald Reagan twice and George H.W. Bush once, but since then it's been a Democrat sweep in Pennsylvania presidential races. Keystone staters backed Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, Al Gore in 2000, John Kerry in 2004, and Barack Obama in 2008. More times than not the Pennsylvania winner went on to win the White House, with Gore and Kerry being the exceptions. So, while not the barometer of an Ohio or a Florida, Pennsylvania certainly can go a long way in deciding who calls Pennsylvania Avenue home. With that in mind, the Sarah Palin supporters that live here know they can't afford to leave any stone unturned. They are already fighting for their candidate on a daily basis, even though she has yet to enter the race.

Pennsylvania is an interesting state. Yes, the two big cities account for a large part of the identity of the commonwealth but between the liberal lemmings of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh we find middle America. If someone were dropped into many parts of the state without knowing where they were they may guess Kentucky or Tennessee or another conservative bastion. There are rural communities filled with hard-working values voters who want their leaders to pass a litany of litmus tests. Of course they want someone to turn the economy around but they also want that person to believe in the core principles that this country was founded on. Many are pro-life gun owners that hold God, country and family near and dear. You could argue they are a group Governor Palin could certainly win over.

We all remember the infamous quote from then Senator Obama. Speaking about small towns in Pennsylvania back in 2008, Obama said, "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." That comment ruffled a lot of feathers. Some however did their own line item veto to the quote and pulled out the parts that they could take as a compliment. Now they use it as fodder; as inspiration. These folks do find their right to bare arms a vital part of being an American. They do worship Jesus and are not ashamed of it, no matter how much Hollywood or the press may tell them it's not really cool. Governor Palin shares these sentiments.

The outpouring of Palin support in Pennsylvania is as clear as day on the Internet. Facebook pages galore are backing the Barracuda. The 'likes', comments, and posts pile up on these pages day in and day out. They want Sarah Palin to run for president. They want it bad. Palinistas root for her to run, pray that she'll run, and flat out beg her to run. These are committed supporters who likely would strongly back another hopeful if their Sarah ultimately decides to sit this one out, but it's clear there is only one top choice for them. This exuberance shows candidate Palin would have a dedicated base of eager volunteers, thus making her extremely dangerous not only in the GOP primary but in a potential match-up with President Obama.

Some of the hotter Palin pages on Facebook right now include Pennsylvanians for Palin, Americans for Sarah Palin 2012, and 2012 DRAFT SARAH COMMITTEE. All have a noticeable presence of Keystone State residents yearning for a Palin run. Perhaps the most intriguing group is Youth For Palin. The cyber gathering there is relatively new and gaining steam every day. There is no age requirement. It's for all Palin backers, but there are plenty of young Americans, some who won't even be able to vote come 2012, putting every ounce of energy into their candidate who isn't a candidate just yet. Obama's victory in '08 was buoyed by young voters and youthful volunteers. Palin will try to delve into that page of the playbook if she does enter the fray. The foundation is already there.

What's most noticeable with all of these groups is that the drive for a Palin candidacy seems so genuine. No one appears to be looking for fame or pay or really anything other than getting the woman in the White House that they believe can turn our national mess around. They brag about how she isn't from money, how she doesn't have multiple master's degrees, how she's one of them. A real person who knows how to deal with real issues. A daughter, wife, mother, warrior.

Now it's a hurry up and wait attitude. They're chomping at the bit, cautiously confident Palin will say 'I'm in' come August or September. Perhaps Tammy Bruce put it best. When I spoke with her at one of the showings of The Undefeated, she said her best advice to Palin supporters is to act as if she's running. "If she does...great," said Bruce. "If not, no harm, no foul." Those in Pennsylvania yearning for a Palin national campaign seem to be heeding that advice. They rarely speak in 'ifs', rather optimistically choosing 'whens' instead.

Because of a late primary date, the Republican nomination will likely be sewn up by the time Pennsylvania voters get a chance to pull the lever. In 2008 Mike Huckabee was still on the ballot, but John McCain was already the presumptive nominee. So assuming Palin can fend off Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and the rest of the field, Pennsylvania will only play a role in November 2012. But, oh what a role this state could play. Barring major Election Day weirdness elsewhere, a GOP victory in Pennsylvania would almost assuredly spell the end of the Obama administration.

Could Palin actually take Pennsylvania? McCain was beaten here soundly. Sarah Palin, however is not John McCain. The Republican ticket soared when Palin came on board only to falter when the economy tanked. Along the way campaign operatives silenced Governor Palin, rarely allowing her to speak of Obama's less than stellar associates or his sketchy political dealings in Chicago. Sarah Palin on top of a national ticket would mean an unfiltered voice. She'd go after the President's record, something he did not have in 2008. Now he owns a dreadful economy chockfull of unemployment, skyrocketing gas prices and unheard of grocery costs. The opponent is beatable. Can voters in Pennsylvania see past the muck and mire continuously thrown Palin's way by the media, celebrities, and Dems? That will ultimately decide this potential match-up. A dream match-up at that if you ask Palin supporters around here.
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