, Michele Bachmann
and Sharron Angle
Why would anyone visit Iowa at this time of year unless they're testing the presidential waters? And are these the best potential women
candidates Republicans can come up with?
First, there's no reason to go to Iowa this time of year unless you're a politician thinking about a presidential run. Believe me, I've lived there and if you think the East Coast snow is bad, try it with temperatures of 20 below and blowing winds.
So when Palin made two book-tour stops
in Iowa in November and December, and one of her aides told RealClearPolitics
that Palin's people are talking with Tea Party activists in the state, that's a sign. So too are the tweets
and blog posts
from supporters of the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee.
And when Bachmann, the tea party congresswoman from the Twin Cities, precedes her unofficial response to the State of the Union
address with a Friday trip to an Iowa fundraiser
, you've gotta know she's thinking that maybe she's got a shot.
Angle said she's "investigating all my options"
during an Iowa visit this week for the premier of a conservative Christian movie. She didn't make the trip to the New Hampshire premiere of "The Genesis Code," instead returning to Nevada to care for her elderly father. But she offered to return to Iowa at the drop of an invite.
So, yes, these three GOP women are definitely testing the waters.
As to the second question, is this really the best the GOP can do? The answer to that depends on your point of view. As someone who worked briefly in a galaxy far, far away (Florida) in public relations for a politician, I view it in terms of TV campaign ads (or YouTube, these days). Here's what they could look like, in a primary or caucus, as well as the general election.
Palin's Thanksgiving Day message slamming the media.
In early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, folks celebrate by giving thanks, not by taking pot shots.
Palin's recent proclamation on entitlement programs, aka, Social Security and Medicare.
Lost in her WTF moment on Greta Van Susteren's show
this week was her statement that we've got to let new enrollees in these programs "know the benefits aren't going to be the same." Play this enough times and it'll even get the boomers who've paid into the system worked up.
Bachmann's unfortunate camera angle, combined with some historic confusion.
Sure, she was talking to the tea party
and facing their camera during her state of the union response. But it didn't look good to everyone else watching on traditional TV, and it won't look good in campaign ads, especially when combined with her Iowa statements about the founding fathers as slavery opponents.
Bachmann's call for an investigation of Barack Obama as "anti-American."
Her Chris Matthews appearance in 2008
suggesting she'd favor investigations of other congressional members likely would raise red flags for those who remember Joseph McCarthy and his far-ranging witch hunt.
Angle's apparent call to arms.
Her statement about using "Second Amendment remedies" and people saying, "I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out" is on Carl Cannon's quotes of the year 2010
for a reason, and not necessarily a good one.
Angle telling a group of Hispanic high school kids they look Asian.
There's a video moment
that doesn't look so good to the nation's fastest growing demographic.
I understand that supporters of these current hot three totally agree and endorse these moments and others. But the question any political strategist has to ask is, "What will independent voters think?" Those independents get to participate in New Hampshire's selection process. They're key to winning the general election.
There are plenty of GOP women with political smarts and experience who would make great 2012 candidates. What about former Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice
? She'd be a challenging foil for Obama.
Former U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole
has tons of administrative experience in government and at the Red Cross. Maine Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins are probably too liberal for most of the GOP, but they'd have great appeal for independent voters.
Over at The Fix
, Chris Cillizza has Palin as No. 2 on his Friday GOP presidential line, noting that plenty of folks -- likely including Bachmann and Angle -- are waiting to see whether she'll run.
But the 2012 presidential race is about far more than the Republican nomination and appeasing the tea party. And, as Politics Daily Editor in Chief Melinda Henneberger pointed out on Hardball with Chris Matthews
earlier this week, provocative does not equate with presidential for most of the populace.
Instead, as Henneberger points out, these three women are making Republican men look great. Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and the rest of the potential field should be sending flowers to Sarah, Michele and Sharron.