GOP Strategist Mark McKinnon: Sarah Palin ‘Cost Republicans the Leadership of the Senate’

 Appearing as a guest on Tuesday’s Last Word on MSNBC, Mark McKinnon - former media advisor to the Bush and McCain presidential campaigns who writes a column for the Daily Beast- blamed Sarah Palin for the Republican Party’s failure to recapture control of the Senate, charging that "she put up some candidates that really weren’t qualified." He continued: "They lost. We lost. The Republicans could have taken the Senate if not for Sarah Palin. And so her stock is falling and pretty rapidly now, I think."

He soon reiterated: "It wasn't strategic. It was impulsive and it cost the Republicans the leadership of the Senate."

After quipping that Palin is "getting closer to her sell-by date," McKinnon also mocked Palin as being unworthy of comparison to Republican hero Ronald Reagan. McKinnon: "You know, she's comparing herself to Ronald Reagan. And, you know, I didn't know Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan was not a friend of mine, but I can guarantee you this, Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan. And she talked about his movie. She didn't even get the name of his movie right."

Below is a complete transcript of the relevant segment from the Tuesday, November 9, Last Word on MSNBC:

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: Joining me now, media advisor for the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush and John McCain, Mark McKinnon. Mark, thank you very much for joining us. Mark, you worked with Sarah Palin in debate prep during the vice presidential campaign. Did you see anything in that candidate that indicated this loser of the vice presidency was capable of bucking that history that goes all the way back to Henry Cabot Lodge in 1960? Every vice presidential candidate in the television age never, ever, ever gets to the presidency after they lose the vice presidency?

MARK MCKINNON, MEDIA ADVISOR OF BUSH AND MCCAIN CAMPAIGNS: Well, Lawrence, I think Sarah Palin’s getting closer to her sell-by date. Congratulations on your evolution on the show, by the way. You know, she’s comparing herself to Ronald Reagan. And, you know, I didn’t know Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan was not a friend of mine, but I can guarantee you this, Sarah Palin is no Ronald Reagan.

And she talked about his movie. She didn’t even get the name of his movie right. And she’s comparing herself to a real icon of the party. So, you know, I think it’s problematic. I think that the Republican Party is beginning to realize that Sarah Palin’s crashed this party a little too long and that it’s not good for the Republican Party. It’s not good for the prospects of a Republican nominee and then win a general election in 2012.

O`DONNELL: Mark, what do you think is going on with guys like Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, who publicly say, Gingrich did this on television recently, that, of course, she’s qualified, she was more qualified than Joe Biden. And Giuliani the same thing. They pump up Sarah Palin and her credentials. Is that, are they just playing to Palin backers, hoping that they don’t alienate them in any way for their own future possible political prospects?

MCKINNON: Yeah, I think that that’s the interesting thing about the primary. Everybody is dancing around Sarah Palin. The interesting thing is that they talk about was she as qualified as Barack Obama, but then they turn around and say that Barack Obama is not qualified. So that doesn’t really square very well. We’re beginning to see very quickly now, as a result of these elections, that she put up some candidates that really weren’t qualified. They lost. We lost. The Republicans could have taken the Senate if not for Sarah Palin. And so her stock is falling and pretty rapidly now, I think.

O`DONNELL: Mark, is there any way of Palin rewriting what we know to be, based on the mathematical history of this last election, which is if she didn’t help Christine O’Donnell get that nomination in Delaware, if she didn’t help some of these Tea Partiers to get those nominations to the Senate, then the Democrats would have lost those seats, that they were then able to win because of the nominees that Sarah Palin delivered to the Democrats. Is she going to be able to somehow rewrite that in the Republican convention as some kind of champion?

 MCKINNON: No, she’s not. It wasn’t strategic. It was impulsive and it cost the Republicans the leadership of the Senate. And that’s what people are seeing now. They’re looking at this and they’re realizing that she may be able to win the nomination, and you look at a crowded field in Iowa and if she runs, you can see a pathway there, particularly if you have eight guys and Sarah Palin, and look at the constituency of those primary voters. It’s possible, but it’s highly problematic because she may be able to win a nomination, but there’s no way that she can win the general election.

O’DONNELL: Mark McKinnon of Public Strategies, a Republican insider, formerly of the Bush and McCain campaigns, thank you very much for joining me tonight, Mark.

MCKINNON: Hey, thanks, Lawrence.