Appearing on Monday’s CBS Early Show, former Bush speech writer David Frum remarked on Sarah Palin’s political future following her resignation as governor of Alaska: "She's a divisive force within the Republican Party...And many fear, as I do...that she represents a future that leads the party both to political defeat and then to ineffectiveness in government."
Co-host Harry Smith moderated a debate over Palin’s role in the party between Frum and author Ann Coulter. Even Smith acknowledged the now former Governor’s star power: "This woman is a rock star, there’s no denying it...I don't think it matters that she quit." Coulter agreed: "And she's just an amazing speaker. I mean, I think she may do something like the Ronald Reagan GE tours, where she goes around and speaks because she is heavily desired by various Republican, conservative groups, politicians. She has amazing star power and it will be interesting to see."
Coulter went on to criticize a media double standard when it comes to politicians leaving public life: "I mean, the reason the mainstream media, by and large, didn't cover the [former Senator John] Edwards affair was the argument, ‘well, he's a private citizen now. He’s an ex-presidential candidate, but just a private citizen.’ If the media will leave her [Sarah Palin] alone. And I don't think so."
Unusually, Smith did not take the bait, but simply noted that Palin gave the media a "tongue lashing" in her farewell speech on Sunday. He then turned to Frum and wondered: "Is Sarah Palin the future of the Republican Party?" It was at that point that Frum denounced Palin’s "divisiveness." Not caring if he was divisive, Frum later concluded: "...she had the highest negatives of any of the Republican candidates. She had failed in interview after interview, conspicuously on this network. She could not explain what she believed, who she was. She had a very slight record of achievement...I don't think this woman can – it is not impossible to me that she could win a Republican nomination. But the presidency? Impossible. And the rest of us will pay the price."
During the 2008 campaign, Frum appeared on the October 13 Early Show and declared: "I think Sarah Palin was a huge mistake...whose knowledge is so shallow, it makes people -- it doesn't just make people offended, it makes them afraid."
On the Saturday Early Show, both Frum Coulter appeared with Bay Buchanan to debate Palin’s future.
Here is the full transcript of the Monday Early Show segment:
HARRY SMITH: Sarah Palin steps down as the Alaska governor but leaves little hint of what her future role might be.
SARAH PALIN: I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right and for truth.
SMITH: We'll talk with outspoken conservative, Ann Coulter, about Palin’s second act.
HARRY SMITH: Alright, let’s get to the headlines then, Sarah Palin begins a new life this morning. On Sunday, she stepped down as governor of Alaska with a fiery farewell speech. How many are wondering what's next? CBS News correspondent, Bill Whitaker joins us from Los Angeles with the latest. Good morning, Bill.
BILL WHITAKER: Good morning, Harry. It seems nothing is politics as usual with Sarah Palin. She shot from little-known governor to one of the most popular, if polarizing, politicians in the U.S. when John McCain tapped her to be his running mate. Her farewell speech in Alaska, pure Palin, fiery and unpredictable. Sarah Palin handed the reigns of power to Lieutenant Governor, Sean Parnell.
SARAH PALIN: With this decision, now, I will be able to fight even harder for you.
WHITAKER: But walking out the door, one more defiant jab at the press.
PALIN: Our new governor has a very nice family, too. So leave his kids alone.
WHITAKER: And at Hollywood-
PALIN: Hollywood needs to know, we eat, therefore, we hunt.
WHITAKER: But why is she stepping down?
CHUCK HEATH [SARAH PALIN’S FATHER]: I have no idea what her game plan is.
WHITAKER: While a majority of Americans, 53%, view Palin negatively, she remains widely popular in the Republican Party. 70% have a positive opinion of her. Now with a book deal, book tour in the works, and $1 million in political action committee coffers, is she stepping off stage or setting the stage to run for president?
ANDY BARR [POLITICO.COM]: The kind of quitter stigma that's been attached to her is something that’s going to be very damaging in any future campaign if she does decide to take on.
WHITAKER: Now, Sarah Palin is keeping in touch with her followers through Twitter. But don't look for campaign announcements there either. Her last announcement on Twitter when she left the governorship, a simple ‘thank you.’ Harry.
SMITH: Bill Whitaker, thanks so much. Joining us now is political commentator, Ann Coulter and in Washington, former Bush speech writer, David Frum. Good morning to you both.
ANN COULTER: Good morning.
DAVID FRUM: Good morning.
SMITH: This woman is a rock star, there’s no denying it. And I don't want to disagree with our friend from Politico, I don't think it matters that she quit with a year to go – a little less than a year to go in her term. What is her next step, Ann Coulter?
ANN COULTER: I’ve no actual knowledge of this, but I suspect – well, she has a book to write, we know she has the book contract. And she's just an amazing speaker. I mean, I think she may do something like the Ronald Reagan GE tours, where she goes around and speaks because she is heavily desired by various Republican, conservative groups, politicians. She has amazing star power and it will be interesting to see. I mean, the reason the mainstream media, by and large, didn't cover the [John] Edwards affair was the argument, ‘well, he's a private citizen now. He’s an ex-presidential candidate, but just a private citizen.’ If the media will leave her alone. And I don't think so.
SMITH: Yeah, well, she had plenty to say to the media yesterday and gave sort of gave the media a tongue lashing. David Frum, is Sarah Palin the future of the Republican Party?
DAVID FRUM: She's a future of the Republican Party. She's a divisive force within the Republican Party. Ann is right to say that she's been asked to speak in many Republican affairs. But note that one of her first invitations was for an internal Republican battle, Texas Governor Rick Perry asked her to come speak against Kay Bailey Hutchison. So her divisiveness is not just divisive within the country, it’s divisive within the party. And many fear, as I do, that while she's very popular with some Republicans, that she represents a future that leads the party both to political defeat and then to ineffectiveness in government.
SMITH: She talked about the North Star during her speech yesterday. Is she the North Star? Is she, unlike what David might suggest, is she really who the Republicans are, Ann Coulter?
COULTER: I think a lot closer to the Republican Party that wins. I mean, this is a long-standing battle within the Republican Party. Stated generally, this sort of moderate, Rockefeller Republicans versus the right-wing Republicans. And they’re always the right-wing Republicans – I mean Reagan was pretty divisive, too. He ran against George Bush and the claim was, ‘oh, he's just appealing to the base.’ Well, the Republican base has a pretty wide appeal. And when we run the ones with the wider appeal, like John McCain, who was so respected by Democrats, that tends to be when we lose. But there is just, I mean, I don't know if she's going to run in four years. There – she has such an appeal. One – one person who has noticed and been quite interested in Sarah Palin, is Margaret Thatcher, who is dying to talk to Sarah Palin because interestingly, Margaret Thatcher is the daughter of a grocer. She had to teach herself to speak proper English and I think Sarah Palin will probably have to start not dropping her G's, but that is minor compared to the star appeal she has.
SMITH: I don’t think – I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think that’s – David Frum-
FRUM: You know-
SMITH: Go ahead.
FRUM: Let me just talk about that North Star and what – let’s cover what she said in that speech and the reason for her appeal. It is an amazing thing that a governor's most notable achievement in office was to distribute an extra $1,200 a year to every resident of Alaska, would include in her speech an attack on government handouts. And that’s the kind of thing that makes people say ‘well, we know why she was popular – when she was popular in Alaska – she gave everybody 1,200 bucks, you’d like that too. But she's also leaving with her state in great fiscal difficulty. And I don't know what kind of right-wing Republican you are when you say ‘I'm giving away money that I’ve raised by raising taxes on oil companies.’
FRUM: As a right-winger, it's a strange approach.
SMITH: David, let's go back to Ann's point. What about the idea that she really is the one who represents, can she reach over? Can she reach over to what we used to call ‘Reagan Democrats’? Is she the one who could really win it all?
FRUM: Look, we know the answer to this question because we can see what happened in 2008. Between the time she was announced at the end of August of 2008 and voting day, Sarah Palin had the steepest decline in approval of any national politician ever in American polling history. And the decline was steepest among women, the very people whom Republicans most need to win. By the end of that campaign, she had the highest negatives of any of the Republican candidates. She had failed in interview after interview, conspicuously on this network. She could not explain what she believed, who she was. She had a very slight record of achievement, which is mostly one of taxing and giving away money in cash So I don't think this woman can – it is not impossible to me that she could win a Republican nomination. But the presidency? Impossible. And the rest of us will pay the price.
SMITH: We shall see-
COULTER: I disagree with all of that and that's all we have time for.
SMITH: There you go. Ann, thank you so much.
COULTER: Thank you.
SMITH: David, do appreciate it, sir.
FRUM: Thank you.