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Conservative Bloggers Feud Over Perry and Palin

Conservative Bloggers Feud Over Perry and Palin

By Scott Conroy - August 25, 2011


An escalating series of insults and allegations exchanged between conservative blogger Erick Erickson and defenders of Virginia Senate candidate Jamie Radtke has taken an overt turn into Republican presidential politics, becoming the first publicly waged proxy battle between forces sympathetic to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and those inclined to align with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

It all began on Wednesday when Politico published an email that Erickson, the influential editor of RedState.com and a CNN contributor, sent to Radtke earlier this month. The email made clear that Erickson intended to soften his previously espoused support for Radtke, who is competing in a Republican primary against George Allen for Allen’s old Senate seat.

In the leaked email, Erickson explained to Radtke that “my bosses are huge Allen friends,” and thus he would have to be “delicate” when Radtke made the rounds at his RedState convention in mid-August in Charleston, S.C. -- the venue where Perry officially announced his presidential candidacy.

Later on Wednesday, Erickson took to RedState.com to defend his editorial independence and to disparage Radtke’s viability as a candidate, heavily criticizing her speaking performance at the RedState convention, which he said garnered horrible reviews from attendees (Erickson was not present). “Jamie Radtke is not a victim,” he wrote. “She’s a candidate. And clearly a bad one at that.”

The presidential politics angle to the spat started to become apparent when Erickson wrote an additional blog post, in which he accused conservative blogger Dan Riehl of leaking the email to Politico. As evidence, he noted that Riehl had taken issue with RedState over its disparagement of conservative commentator Michelle Malkin’s condemnation of Perry’s 2007 push, as Texas governor, to mandate the vaccination of young girls with Gardasil -- which was developed to prevent HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease in the U.S.

“I get he’s upset and/or jealous of RedState and thinks, I suppose, that we should be in the tank for Palin or should not have let Perry announce at the RedState Gathering or whatever the reason du jour is,” Erickson wrote of Riehl in an update to his post.

Less than 20 minutes after the original Politico story was published, Erickson also posted an item in which he pointed to recent polling to suggest that Palin’s potential entry into the GOP field “would not shake up the race terribly at this point.”

“All of the above suggests, if Palin got in, it would not be hers for the taking as many of her supporters might think,” Erickson wrote. “Instead, she’d struggle for third place and not be guaranteed, even in Iowa, of a strong finish.”

Eighteen minutes after Erickson’s post went up, Riehl published his own blog item, which he titled “Perry Versus Palin,” and observed “how various voices and forces seem to be aligning themselves as relates to their support for Rick Perry or Sarah Palin.”

“For what it's worth, I'm getting a sense that, within the conservative movement, Perry may come to more represent the old line conservative movement, much of which is seriously compromised as a result of having been established in Washington for so long,” Riehl wrote. “At the same time, I'm getting a sense that if the movement is to truly be re-energized and move forward from something it's been for decades -- something already bound up in Washington -- it may take a Sarah Palin to move forward along that path. If that does become the case, the two paths do lead to a different place.”

Riehl writes for the Big Government and Big Journalism sites, which are operated by Andrew Breitbart -- the conservative firebrand who appears in the pro-Palin documentary “The Undefeated.”

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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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