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Ariz. GOP Candidate Bashes Palin for Endorsing Moderates

Ariz. GOP Candidate Bashes Palin for Endorsing Moderates

By Scott Conroy - August 18, 2010


A Republican candidate in Arizona's hotly contested 8th congressional district race was videotaped making some unscripted remarks about Sarah Palin earlier this week.

In the video, Marine Corps combat veteran Jesse Kelly is seen answering a question about whether he thinks Palin should run for president. Kelly responds by noting that he "was a huge fan" of Palin during her 2008 vice-presidential run, but then takes his answer down a more perilous path, noting that he was disappointed in Palin's endorsement of Carly Fiorina in California and other Republicans who are "not principled people, but people who sell our principles down the river."

"I've been really, really disappointed by that, by some of these endorsements and some of the things she's done," Kelly says in the video.

Kelly then remarks that he would probably vote for Palin in a 2012 Republican primary before veering back to disparaging the darling of the conservative base after another questioner notes that Palin was politically obligated to endorse John McCain in the Arizona senator's primary race against Tea Party favorite J.D. Hayworth.

"The McCain endorsement was not the final straw for me; it was the Fiorina endorsement in California," Kelly says. "There was a great principled conservative that didn't have a chance in hell out there named Chuck DeVore. She endorsed the one who was not a conservative by any stretch of the imagination, but she was going to win. Endorsing people that are going to win because you want to be on the right side of a senator is not the kind of political courage that's gonna take this country back."

It's difficult to see how questioning Sarah Palin's political courage might be a winning tactic in a Republican primary in Arizona, but Kelly's challenge to Palin's conservative halo marks another case of the potential for backlash that the former Alaska governor faces by endorsing so heavily in contested Republican primaries.

Then again, Palin has never been one to back away from a challenge, and Kelly might have awakened a sleeping giant just days before the August 24 primary.

Will the Mama Grizzly show off her claws by lending her support to Kelly's chief GOP opponent, former state legislator Jonathan Paton?

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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