CBS: Palin Risks 'Rubbing Voters The Wrong Way' By Turning Only to Fox News

CBS's Erica Hill strongly hinted on Monday's Early Show that Sarah Palin's "extended flirtation...with running" for president and speaking only to Fox News to the detriment of the rest of the media would sour her with the voters. Hill asked former Mitt Romney aide Kevin Madden, "Does any of this risk though rubbing voters the wrong way?"

The anchor brought on Madden and former Clinton spokesman Joe Lockhart to discuss the former Alaska governor and the rest of the possible and actual 2012 presidential field for the Republican Party. After the Republican strategist agreed to a large extent with Hill in his answer to this question, she turned to Lockhart for his left-of-center view: "From a Democratic standpoint, if Sarah Palin jumped into the race, how do you think that would work out for President Obama?"

In reply, the former Clinton mouthpiece regurgitated a common liberal talking point about Palin:

LOCKHART: Well, I think from a Democratic point of view, it's the best thing that could happen. The problem is that Sarah Palin sucks up all of the energy and the coverage. She's irresistible. She's like a walking reality TV show. You know, it's crazy, it's colorful, and the rest of the field- they're pretty serious men and women, and they- just like Donald Trump did for the first part of this, as we go into the second phase, they're going to struggle. You know, we're not talking about Tim Pawlenty this morning. We're not talking about Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, I think, the people who really fight out this nomination, and that's a problem for them, and the White House just needs to sit back and watch.

Later in the segment, Madden's role as a former aide seemed not so former, as he lauded his former boss's record, but also conceded that he wasn't a lock for the Republican nomination:

MADDEN: Well, look, I think the fundamentals of this election are already framed around the economy. And Governor Romney has had the best record, I think, on the issue of the economy, given that he's had private sector experience, and he turned around Massachusetts when they were struggling with their economy. But that doesn't really mean that there's not going to be another event that can shift this back to national security or foreign policy, where another candidate may be able to showcase their profile.

The full transcript of Erica Hill's segment with Kevin Madden and Joe Lockhart, which aired 9 minutes into the 7 am Eastern hour of Tuesday's Early Show:

ERICA HILL: We want to turn now to the race for the White House and the most high-profile non-candidate for president right now. Sarah Palin is currently on her East Coast bus tour, making a stop in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on Memorial Day, where she addressed the question everyone is asking: is she really considering taking the plunge?

FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR SARAH PALIN: I honestly don't know. It's still, you know, a matter of looking at the field and considering much. There truly is a lot to consider before you throw yourself out there in the name of service to the public because it's so all-consuming.

Kevin Madden, Republican Strategist; & Joe Lockhart, Former Clinton Administration Spokesman | NewsBusters.orgHILL: Joining us now from Washington, Republican strategist Kevin Madden, a former Mitt Romney campaign aide, and Democratic strategist Joe Lockhart, who was White House press secretary under President Clinton. Good to have both of you with us this morning.

Kevin, I'm going to start with you on the Sarah Palin question because we have to ask it. It's this extended flirtation, you might almost call it, with running. The only media, too, she wants to speak to is her employer, Fox News. Does any of this risk though rubbing voters the wrong way?

KEVIN MADDEN: Well, it doesn't fit the 'seems like you're not running' because you want to be president and you're not running because you're- you want to be a serious candidate. Instead, you're using a presidential campaign as a vehicle to build a little bit more of a profile as a celebrity, or somebody who's going to be on TV- somebody's who's going to be selling books and giving speeches. That tends to rub voters the wrong way, because, right now, they feel like there are very big challenges, and they think that the candidates that they want to see on the campaign trail are the ones who are really dealing and very acutely focused on the substance of problems or substance of challenges that we face as Americans. So it could turn off a lot of voters who are really looking at this race that's framed around the big issues.

HILL: Joe, Kevin laid out some of the challenges from the Republican standpoint there. From a Democratic standpoint, if Sarah Palin jumped into the race, how do you think that would work out for President Obama?

JOE LOCKHART: Well, I think from a Democratic point of view, it's the best thing that could happen. The problem is that Sarah Palin sucks up all of the energy and the coverage. She's irresistible. She's like a walking reality TV show. You know, it's crazy, it's colorful, and the rest of the field- they're pretty serious men and women, and they- just like Donald Trump did for the first part of this, as we go into the second phase, they're going to struggle. You know, we're not talking about Tim Pawlenty this morning. We're not talking about Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, I think, the people who really fight out this nomination, and that's a problem for them, and the White House just needs to sit back and watch.

HILL: So Kevin, looking at that, throwing out a few names there, including Mitt Romney, who, as we mentioned, you worked for in the last campaign, who should we be paying attention to this morning in the Republican field?

MADDEN: Well, I think those top three, I think, are the ones that have the organization. They seem to have the compelling argument for many of the voters in the early primary states. Governor Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman- I think those are the folks that seem to be taking the most concrete steps toward building real serious campaigns and real serious candidacies in those early states like Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and onward. But then you have another group of folks who have national name identification, like Newt Gingrich, who are also very serious with voters and are taking, you know, making the- taking the right organizational steps to compete in these early primary states.

HILL: They may be more serious, but Romney has that massive war chest he's been amassing, as we know, Joe. But Jon Huntsman, in many ways it would seem, could appeal the most to independents. Is he, perhaps, the biggest threat to the White House?


LOCKHART: Well, listen, it's hard to know because all of this is on paper now. I think if you look at the last couple of primaries, it's the person who got hot at the end, to use a sports metaphor- John Kerry in 2004, John McCain in 2008, who both rebuilt from, you know, disastrous starts. So I wouldn't count anybody out, and I think Huntsman may be the one who, because he's not well known and if he keeps a general low profile between now and, say, you know, post-Thanksgiving, could be the hot ticket. You want to be the hot candidate, the 'it' candidate as you go into Iowa and New Hampshire, and not the one who was talked about six months earlier.

HILL: Kevin, given that and how difficult it can be to upset any incumbent, who do you think has the best chance of being that hot, 'it' candidate?

MADDEN: Well, look, I think the fundamentals of this election are already framed around the economy. And Governor Romney has had the best record, I think, on the issue of the economy, given that he's had private sector experience, and he turned around Massachusetts when they were struggling with their economy. But that doesn't really mean that there's not going to be another event that can shift this back to national security or foreign policy, where another candidate may be able to showcase their profile. And then, also, I think these candidates have enough time to build up, you know, an argument in the early primary states with Republican voters that they can also be a very serious nominee and they can win- they could take the nomination in the end. So, I will say the one thing that's defining this electorate right now is its volatility. There's been twenty point swings on issues, twenty point swings on candidates. So it's going to be- that's why we have these primaries. (Hill laughs) That's the process that really starts to produce the best nominee.

HILL: All right. So what you're saying is no name is appearing in your crystal ball this morning? (laughs)

MADDEN: No, no. It is not a- it's definitely not- this field is very unsettled right now.

HILL: The good news is is it gives us lots to talk about in the coming weeks-

MADDEN: Absolutely-

HILL: Kevin Madden and Joe Lockhart, thank you both this morning.

LOCKHART: Thanks.

MADDEN: Nice to be with you.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center