Perry needs Palin (and vice versa)
Palin’s endorsement would give the Texan more street cred among tea party constituents, generate large crowds and fill his campaign coffers till overflowing. But more decisively, Palin’s advocacy would do for Perry what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s endorsement of Mitt Romney does not, and that is excite a critical contingent of the Republican base: those pesky evangelicals who are just begging for an excuse to reject Romney.
Perry’s Texas charm coupled with Palin’s rock-star status would get everyone talking about the Texan as a viable candidate again. With front-runner Herman Cain sidetracked by the recent revelation of sexual harassment allegations leveled at him while he ran the National Restaurant Association in the 1990s, the timing for a Perry-Palin alliance could not be better.
But while it is easy to see how Perry could benefit from an infusion of Palin power, what does the Alaskan maverick with a penchant for self-promotion have to gain by pitching her potency toward Perry?
With Palin’s decision not to enter the race comes the threat of losing her voice. Supporting Perry would provide Palin with a plausible context to remain in the limelight, which translates into more photo ops, more speeches, more television interviews and more chances to flex her muscles.
So both politicians have something to gain from joining forces. From Perry’s vantage point, the Texan can win the nomination with her support. From Palin’s perspective, her legend soars for saving a campaign on life support and, should Perry lose, she can save face by passionately proclaiming that she fought for the candidate and the values in which she believes.
The country would also benefit from this strategic alliance because Palin’s polarizing presence would force both Perry and Romney to reveal more precisely their conservative proclivities and commitments. Simply put, Palin power would push both candidates more to the right, producing a more informed voting public and a clearer contrast between President Barack Obama and the eventual Republican nominee.
As Perry and Palin proceed toward the precipice of an uncertain future, each holds the solution to the other’s most pressing problem: Palin provides Perry with resuscitation; Perry gives Palin relevance.