By Chuck Doud
The Madera Tribune
Sarah Palin and Ron Paul remain the most interesting Republican presidential hopefuls. Palin’s strength is still the fact she is colorful and fearless, and is becoming increasingly well informed. Paul, who ran a lively campaign in 2008, is still the conservative who stays on point.
Palin, the former governor of Alaska, and Paul, a Texas Congressman, strike terror into the hearts of Democrats and many mainstream Republicans. Because their ideas aren’t mainstream, the establishments of mainstream politicians and mainstream media are connfused. They describe Palin’s and Paul’s sharp-edged conservatism — even Libertarianism — as too reactionary. “They are unelectable,” is the phrase most often heard in the political dialogues about them these days.
But that’s what was said about Ronald Reagan, and he not only defeated a sitting president, but was re-elected and served two full terms. But he did not win the presidency the first time he was a candidate. Palin didn’t win the vice presidency when she was John McCain’s running mate, nor did Paul win the nomination in 2008, although he did well on a thin campaign budget.
Given two more years, however, they will seem like seasoned candidates. Meanwhile, wherever they go, wherever they speak, they draw large and enthusiastic crowds. Among Republicans, their names are the most recognizable. Two other GOP ex-governors, Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, are running hard, but their speeches and interviews can put you to sleep. Despite the fact they both are brilliant and well qualified to be president, they also both need prescriptions for charisma pills.
In a Republican straw poll of 3,700 ballots cast at the Conservative Policial Action Conference in Washington last week, Paul won hands down with 30 percent of the vote. Romney came in second at 23 percent. Palin finished ninth, with only 3 percent. There were 16 candidates total.
But remember that Palin dropped below the radar after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. You can bet she’ll be back.