Palin Warns Tea Partiers of Disunity as Her Decision Looms

Palin Warns Tea Partiers of Disunity as Her Decision Looms

By Scott Conroy - September 5, 2011

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- As her self-imposed deadline to decide on a presidential run nears, Sarah Palin told a robust crowd of about 1,000 people here Monday that the Tea Party has thrived without a single standard-bearer and would continue to do so.

“The Tea Party movement is bigger than any one person, and it’s not about any one candidate,” Palin said. “And thank goodness we don’t have any one single leader. The movement is about bringing together debate and discussion of solutions from ‘We, the people,’ not the politicos.”

Palin hit on many of the themes -- combating “crony capitalism” and the permanent political class -- that she focused on in her highly anticipated speech Saturday in Indianola, Iowa. But in New Hampshire, her emphasis was more on the future of the Tea Party than how she might define her own potential candidacy.

“Let’s talk straight about some of the problems in trying to grow this movement that is so needed,” said Palin, who has said she will decide on whether to run for president by the end of September. “It’s media-incited internal squabbles, unfortunately, and we can nip some of that in the bud right here and right now because we’ve got a lot of work to do, constitutionalists. Our challenges today are too great. We simply don’t have time to be bogged down in internal conflicts and friendly-fire conflicts.”

Palin’s warning about “internal conflicts” may have been a reference to protests that greeted former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s appearance here on Sunday. As he attempts to court the Tea Party vote more actively, Romney made an appeal to avoid squabbles between Tea Party groups and mainline Republicans.

Palin’s appeal for Tea Party unity may also have been an effort to tamp down the fallout from some thinly veiled remarks she made in Iowa that appeared to be aimed at Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- the current front-runner for the Republican nomination.

“Some GOP candidates, they also raise mammoth amounts of cash,” Palin said on Saturday. “We need to ask them, too: What, if anything, do their donors expect from their investments? We need to know this because our country can’t afford more trillion-dollar thank-you notes to campaign backers.”

Palin and her husband, Todd, spent about two hours at a Manchester restaurant on Sunday night, chatting with patrons and engaging in political discussions with some of the famously hard-bitten voters who often defy national trends in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

After her speech on Monday, Palin shook a few hands and was rushed away to the airport to return to Alaska, where she will presumably spend time finalizing plans about her political future.

Attempts to predict her next move are almost always futile, and even members of Palin’s inner circle remain in the dark about what her ultimate decision will be. Palin’s aides are confident that they would need just a couple of weeks to put together the bare-bones operation she would need to support an unconventional, grass-roots campaign, but there are no indications at this point that they have begun that process in earnest.

“I say, let’s invite those candidates in who are bold enough to take on the tough challenges caused by an out of touch, out of control centralized government and those who are humble enough to admit that they need you and they’ve seen the light,” Palin said at the rally here. “We need people with a proven record of reform and are willing to take on the tough challenges -- to run into danger, if you will, and not run away from it.”

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

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