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GOP governors meet and seek to, uh, not talk about Sarah Palin

For the last five or six decades, the Republican Party always seems to do better on the presidential level when it offers the country a chief executive -- governors, mainly, but also generals, VPs, maybe someday business-types.

Think Eisenhower (general), Nixon (VP), Reagan (Gov)President Dwight D Eisenhower, Bush I (VP), Bush II (Gov).

Legislators are losers. Forget Goldwater (Senate), Ford (House), Dole (Senate) and McCain (Senate).

So naturally, with 2012 just around the corner, we peek in on that presidential candidate breeding ground, the ego-free Republican Governors Assn. (Romney, Huckabee, Gilmore, Jindal, Crist and what's-her-name, the new gal in the house--Sarah Palin).

The RGA opened a three-day meeting today on Miami's Biscayne Bay waterfront.

On hand, of course, was The Times' political warhorse Mark Z. Barabak, who remembers President Franklin D. Roosevelt urgently addressing the nation on television after the great stock market crash of 1929. No, wait, that was Joe the senator.

The governors' sessions offered participants a chance to discuss....

...policy innovation (yawn), best-government practices (zzzz), assess last week’s disappointing election returns (ouch!) and, for a half dozen or more prospects, get a jump on the 2012 GOP race.

Several of the possibilities—including Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, Texas’ Rick Perry and Florida’s Charlie Crist—have been sprinkled throughout the program.

All, however, have been overshadowed by Alaska’s Palin, who's such a star she gets her own solo press conference Thursday morning while all the other govs meet reporters in group “round tables.”

Then, the country's best-known multitasking mom will deliver a speech to her colleagues and any media that wander by on “Looking Towards the Future.”

Which for Republicans is a whole lot better than looking towards the past week's political rubble.

But today, in her absence, Palin's name came up at one of those round tables, and the result could serve as a graduate-level course in squirmy evasion.

Members of the panel were Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman of Utah, former Ebay Chief Executive Meg Whitman and Rob Portman, former House member and budget director in the Bush II administration. Barabak had his tape recorder on.

They were asked whether Palin was the best possible choice for vice president, or whether she hurt running mate John McCain and the GOP ticket this fall.

Republican senator and presidential candidate John McCain of Arizona and his vice presidential running mate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin campaigning in Pennsylvania

Whitman: “I think John picked exactly who he thought was the right person to pick at the time.”

Huntsman: “McCain… [is] a person whose instincts have always served him very well throughout his political career.”

Portman: “She energized the base in ways that were necessary.”

Got the real message there?

So, then came the follow-up question: Would you have been comfortable with Palin serving as president?

After an enormously pregnant but pro-life pause, Whitman responded that Palin was a “very fast study, incredibly enthusiastic.”

Huntsman: “I don’t think it’s a simple yes or no.”

Pawlenty, who'd been mentioned as a prime VP pick himself, said it was McCain’s decision. “So in his judgment, she met that criteria and he felt strongly about that, and we’re going to have to defer to his judgment and that process.”

See if you can follow this. Pawlenty ended with this:

“I think everybody will be looking back and second-guessing, triple-guessing this stuff for months and years.… A lot of this is just like postmodern art. You can look at the painting and different people look at it and see different things.…

"What you have to look to in the end is the data, an objective measurement of it. And so, politics as postmodern art analysis is fun and interesting. but it doesn’t get you very far. So I would just steer you to the data.”

The data? You mean, like the Electoral College?

There, the tentative numbers right now are McCain-Palin 173, Brand X 365.

Or how about the popular vote? McC-P 58 million, Others 66.3 million.

--Andrew Malcolm

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Photo credit: Joseph Kaczmarek / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (27)

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Palin is going to have to work very hard to make herself attractive for 2012. She has served the conservative wing of the GOP very well the past decade, but since her recent celebrity, we can expect Palin to become a divisive name in Republican politics.

McCain was defeated by the people running his campaign. They appeared to do everything they could to sabotage his campaign. He should have turned Sara Palin loose to help him win the election and fired everyone else. This article is just another example. Why would you write "what's her name"? Do you think that is funny? I will write in her name on the next presidential ballot. I am so ashamed of the Republican party for the way Sara was "tossed out there"! You never did anything to actually get McCain/Palin elected. Apparently, you wanted Obama in too. The Republican's deserve to lose their seats in Congress. Unfortunately, the country does not deserve Obama. Thanks just sent the USA down the tubes.

Yes, please stop discussing Palin...she's pulling the GOP down.
I was hoping after the election we'd all heard the last from her but the media keeps covering her shallow statements.
I didn't vote for McCain but he had a much better chance before she was added to the ticket.
It's a JOKE that anyone would think she's qualified to run for President in 2012. It's all in her head. YIKES!

"GOP govs meet and seek to, uh, not talk about Sarah Palin"

That would be the "media" talking to itself about Palin.

Get a life.

Meg Whitman, exporter of jobs,great Republican.
Pawlenty makes sense. Nothing zen-like in that statement.
Probably needs to change parties since he is relatively bright.

58 millionpeople voted incontinent/incompetent ??? thats wild! and the country still sorta functions? amazing!

I honestly didnt realise there sheer numbers of uneducated morons that are actually entitled to vote. Its so sad that the fate of the world is often determined by complete and utter idiots.

These people need to get a clue and start saying what they REALLY think, or they're gonna find themselvesoutmaneuvered by an intellectually-uncurious and undistinguished but highly ambitious political predator who thinks about no one but herself. I wouldn't want to be any of them 4 years from now trying to undo the harm they create now by not speaking up and saying that Sarah Palin SHOULDN"T have been chosen as the VP candidate and that she isn't qualified to even consider running for Steven's senate seat or the presidency in 2012. Someone needs to screw up their courage, get themselves some ba**s and speak out against this travesty that was perpetrated against the American people.

Just a note to say thank God the election is over ,and my man won, but lets just all pull togather and remember that the job before is is a "US" thing not just an Oboma thing.

Why is it that Sara Palin is almost always thought to be the reason McCain lost the election. Can it be that the "herd" has lost sight of the fact that he ran the most inept campain in recent history? He heaped priase on his opponent, failed time after time to strike at Obama's weaknesses until it was too late, and kept Pain on a short leash even after she ignited the Republican convention as McCain never could? How long are we going to give over our free thinking to the liberal media who did nothing but try to smear and degrade Palin in every way possible? They splashed over over the media the fact that Palin was under investigation for Abuse of her powers as Governor of Alaska, waited until the eve of the election to announce the findings then failed to give attention to the finding when it was in Palin's favor. Come on people. Quit being sheep. Think for yourself. Recognize what these jerks are doing and take the control back. We Do NOT have to allow them any influence if they prove over and over they will not be objective. Place blame where it belongs. John McCain screwed up not Sara Palin. She was not in charge of his campain.

With media present, does anyone expect any governors at the RGA to be honest or candid about how they felt or feel about Palin? And who would expect Pawlenty, Huntsman, Whitman or Portman, to be candid, let alone critical?

And Rick Perry as a 2012 presidential candidate??? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! Stop it .. !!! You're killin' me ..!!!!

The GOP would be better served to send Palin back to Alaska and put her back into deep freeze -- where her brain has always been and still is....
She was a disaster for the party.

If the GOP wanted to win, they should have picked Ron Paul but I think they purposely lost. These numb nuts need an enema..

What we should be concerned about is that the guy we elected is less ready to be president than Palin. But we shall see if he select advisors that can bring him up to speed in a short period of time.

I thought "celebrity" was a dirty word for the Republicans. That's all Palin is now. I'm as tired of her as I am of seeing all the gossip rags in the checkout line. If they really are thinking of running her in 2012, they didn't get the message this election in the least.

Energizing the base and making it happy is a good thing. But until that base learns something about social tolerance and inclusion, it will not likely be able to pull a majority out of anywhere anytime soon. Even some of the evangelicals have figured this out. Their perspective is too narrow, too closed, too rigid to represent all the people. So they have to get some power so they can commence to pretend to represent some higher value.

Ha! Despite the tap dance on display there, Pawlenty makes a good point about political post-game analysis being like analyzing post-modern art. But then, where would our humble bloggers be if not for all of that? And what would I read during lunch?

Whatever, more LAT spiking the ball and moon-walking in the end zone. Did you interview any Republican governors who definitely voted for McCain/Palin?

Of how about attendance figures at Sarah Palin rallies, which the media pretty much ignored.

Like this stunner:

70,000 at a Sarah Palin campaign rally in September in Florida. (Media played it down as just 60,000, or as "post-Convention bounce.")

I think that men are not comfortable with Palin. Her youth, her young children, her plain spoken manner. She just does not put off the right image for them. I talked to some men that were not comfortable voting for McCain because of Palin. They seemed to be in agreement with the governors. What I find most sickening is the same people that wanted to say she was inexperienced turn into stuttering boobs when asked to compare her experience to Obama's. Obama has the same resume as Palin? He has never held an executive position ever. His closest job to an executive was the Anneburg Challenge, how well did he do there? We don't know the media has fastidiouly refused to go into Obamas past. Is he much older? No. He is is male and an orator. Style over substance. Then I had the gaul to ask the anti-Palins to compare Obama's resume to John McCain's which oddly enough never happened in the media. Every answer began "WelL..." It comes down to the fact that every anti-Palin I met repeated media narratives almost verbatim. Mission accomplished Couric. (If you don't believe in media bias watch Couric interviews with Joe Biden and Sarah Palin back to back then you will. Courics sh#$ eating grin throughout her Biden interview is repugnant. contrast that with her furrowed brow questioning of Palin. Makes me ill just thinking about it) The amazing amount of group think worries me. A large amount of people, no every person I have talked to about poltics this election cycle has been repeating the same media talking points. To a man. I expect liberals to do it but many people that I thought had a decent handle on politics were only able to hold a conversation that consisted of media talking points. It is a little creepy.

Palin is a woman and they are not comfortable with a woman in power that is that young, has young children or has her vocabulary. That's the truth. Sarah's political future shouls consist of another term as governor then the Senate, maybe. 2012 is not her year the Republican party will not be rehabilitated by then. 2016 would be a better choice.

Eh. What would you want these guys to say? They aren't going to call McCain the flop of a candidate that he was. They aren't going to give the media any more ammunition to run with their "Palin's unqualified" meme. They gave answers that politicians give. Big deal.

As for Palin, her ambition is bigger than her talent. She is like someone pursuing a singing career who cannot sing. Let Palin burn her self out as she is quickly wearing out the welcome mat!

Sure, we're not comfortable with "Palin's Vocabulary" - lol. Oh, you mean 'Pageant Speak'?

Wow, keep drinking the kool-aid people. If she's the future of the GOP, you better get used to losing elections, lol.

I love when people try to seriously defend her. You're only degrading yourself.

Despite McCain's nonstop smears against Obama, McCain was losing throughout the campaign until he got a major increase when Palin was selected.

After the Katie Couric interview, McCain's numbers started dropping significantly. Next McCain said the economy was fundamentally strong and suspended his campaign.

There was a large number of high profile Republicans that came out for Obama that stated Palin was not qualified.

Obama received a huge number of newspaper endorsements. Many stated the Palin was not qualified.

Palin did not even make sense in several interviews. Her sentences were a bunch of words that did not connect.

There's an interesting point there. The Republicans haven't won the presidency with a legislator as the candidate since Warren Harding.

Yes indeed, "Pageant-Speak" is going to go down really well with all the foreign leaders whom she would inevitably encounter in the position of Vice-President of the United States.

Even many Americans almost need a translator to understand what she is trying to say. And most Americans speak English as their first language!

It almost sounds like the 'Pidgin English' that backwoods tribespeople still speak in the highlands of Papua New-Guinea.

If Palin is ever elected to national office, she'll need to appoint an official 'Whitehouse translator', to decipher her 'Palin English' into 'Plain English' for the rest of the English speaking community.

looks like a lot of folks still blame the media for the loss. hey, i thought the media trashed gore and kerry pretty well in their campaigns, but i think they lost because of some deeply ingrained democratic wussiness. thankfully, obama didn't succumb to it. as for comparing palin to obama, well, you may not agree with the man, but nobody can deny that he is thoughtful and articulate. the whole world breathed a huge sigh of relief when he won. i defy anyone reading this to justify the monstrosity of iraq, not to mention the trillions of dollars of republican inspired debt. mccain is simply out of touch with the american public. obama resonates.

Those who complain about sexists not allowing our poor pretty girl Sarah to be our president, get real! If we hoped that we get economy out of a mess, troops out of Iraq, and healthcare out of pit, we would have voted for the devil with horns, pregnant for all the 4 years in the office and with morning sickness, as long as she does a good job as a president. Your cutie pit bull first need to figure out how to put two phrases together in proper English.

I don't need to have a woman in the office as a symbol of equality. I would rather have money in my pocket and healthcare. And I can't see how semi-literate Sarah can figure all that out, with advisors or without them. She can certainly figure out how to shmooze and promise. Yet to see how she can do any better than Bush. She is a creation of the media, as much as Paris Hilton is. I would rather vote for Paris for president than for Sarah.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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