Gillespie: Palin Factor Was Crucial to GOP Victories

Wednesday, 09 Jun 2010 08:19 PM

By Jim Meyers

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Veteran political strategist Ed Gillespie tells Newsmax that two Republican women who won primaries on Tuesday, Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, will be victorious in the general election — while a third candidate, Democrat Blanche Lincoln, is doomed to defeat in November.

Sarah Palin helped several candidates win on Tuesday because she is “willing to shake things up,” says Gillespie, who also predicts that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be in serious trouble running against a tea party Republican in Nevada.

Gillespie was White House Counselor under President George W. Bush and is a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

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In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Gillespie says Arkansas Sen. Lincoln had to move far to the left to narrowly beat out her labor-backed challenger, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, in the Democratic primary.

“Blanche Lincoln does have a constituency in Arkansas in the Democratic Party, and I suspect she was helped by former President Clinton’s vigorous campaigning for her at the end,” Gillespie observes. “He could be more helpful to her than President Obama can.

“But the fact is, in running for that party’s nomination in a competitive primary, Blanche Lincoln had to move very far to the left. She had to embrace the liberal agenda of President Obama, who got 38 percent of the vote in Arkansas, by the way.

“I think, regardless of her winning the primary, that’s likely to be her last election victory.”

Her Republican opponent in November, U.S. Rep. John Boozman, has a double-digit lead over Lincoln in the polls, Gillespie notes.

“Elections aren’t decided until Election Day, but if there’s any race that you can put in the decided category today, it’s the Arkansas Senate race.”

In the Nevada Republic primary, former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle, who had the endorsement of the Tea Party Express, beat out early favorite Sue Lowden, former chairwoman of the Nevada Republican Party, and probably will defeat Sen. Harry Reid in November, Gillespie says.

Angle “ran a very disciplined campaign, and I think this is one of those examples of where the candidate who emerges from a very competitive primary has proven herself to have been the more effective candidate.

“I think she’s going to pose a serious challenge to Harry Reid, who remains mired in around the 40 percent re-elect range. When you’ve got a 100 percent name I.D. and you’ve been in office as long as Harry Reid has been, that’s a pretty dangerous place to be.”

Noting that Democrats have been trying to portray Angle as an extremist fringe candidate, Gillespie tells Newsmax:

“She’s going to run on issues and concern over Harry Reid’s leading the charge for this out-of-control federal debt, carrying the water for President Obama on the government takeover of our healthcare system, this wasteful stimulus package that has not resulted in lasting private sector jobs at all.

“The fact is, the voters are going to make a decision based on whether or not they believe Harry Reid has acted in the best interests of Nevada and the country — and he hasn’t, a majority of voters are going to conclude in Nevada.

“I don’t blame them for trying to shift the attention from Harry Reid and his record as Democratic leader of the United States Senate, working hand in glove with the most liberal president in the history of the country. But it’s not going to work. I think he’s in serious trouble.”

In the California Republican gubernatorial primary, former eBay CEO Meg Whitman won with 62 percent of the vote, easily beating her closest competitor’s 26 percent. Asked whether she will defeat the Democratic candidate, California Attorney General Jerry Brown, in November, Gillespie responds:

“I do. I think California realizes that it has to act boldly to stop its downward spiral. It’s driving businesses and high-income individuals out of the state.

“It needs to attract new business. It needs to have reform of its government. It’s got to break the iron clasp of the public sector employee unions on California’s government. It’s got to have someone who is a bold leader and knows how to effect change and to lead, as Meg Whitman has done.

“She’s a candidate of the future. The Democrats have Jerry Brown, a candidate of the past, who’s going to go back to the same tired liberal policies that have resulted in the stagnation and the negative growth that we’ve seen in California.”

Also in California, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina captured more than 50 percent of the vote in the Republican primary. She will mount a strong challenge against incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer for her Senate seat in November, and her win could give the GOP a 51-seat majority, Gillespie predicts.

“Carly Fiorina proved herself to be a very strong candidate. In terms of her positions I would say she’s a common-sense conservative, someone who knows we’re not going to grow our economy by raising taxes on jobs and investments or racking up mountains of debt, as this administration has done.

“I think she’s going to be a very effective challenger to Barbara Boxer, who is very vulnerable. I think voters look at Barbara Boxer and ask: What have you done for California in terms of helping us to stop the downward spiral we have been in?

“I think Carly Fiorina could be the 50th or 51st Republican senator.”
Fiorina is one of several Republican candidates Palin endorsed, including South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley, who won their primary on Tuesday.

Their success “reinforces the fact that Sarah Palin is someone who connects with voters, particularly with core Republican voters who are inclined to vote in primaries,” Gillespie says.

“The elite media just do not understand Sarah Palin, and she drives them crazy, which makes me happy.

She’s got a lot of common sense. She connects with people’s everyday concerns about the direction of our government, the state of our economy, and the nature of our society today. She’s willing to shake things up. She’s willing to take a stand.

“I think she is misunderstood by much of the media and political elite — and well understood by rank-and-file voters.”




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