Obama: Trump’s rise can be traced back to Palin

Obama: Trump’s rise can be traced back to Palin

Dylan Stableford
Senior editor
October 3, 2016

President Obama says the rise of Donald Trump can be traced back to 2008, when then-GOP presidential nominee John McCain chose a little-known Alaska governor as his running mate.

“I see a straight line from the announcement of Sarah Palin as the vice presidential nominee to what we see today in Donald Trump,” Obama said in a wide-ranging interview with New York magazine published Sunday night. “The emergence of the Freedom Caucus, the tea party, and the shift in the center of gravity for the Republican Party.”

“Whether that changes, I think, will depend in part on the outcome of this election,” Obama continued, “but it’s also going to depend on the degree of self-reflection inside the Republican Party. There have been at least a couple of other times that I’ve said confidently that the fever is going to have to break, but it just seems to get worse.”

Palin, the second woman ever to be nominated for vice president and the first Republican, was a surprise choice given her lack of experience — but the first-term governor and self-described “hockey mom” captured America’s attention with her attacks on Obama before her candidacy, in part, descended into self-parody.

In his conversation with New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait, Obama connected Palin to the tea party and Republican obstructionism in general.

“The moods that I think Sarah Palin had captured during the election increasingly were representative of the Republican activist base, its core,” Obama said while reflecting on his first year in office. “It might not have been representative of Republicans across the country, but it meant that [House Republican leader] John Boehner or [then-Senate Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell had to worry about that mood inside their party that felt that, ‘No, we shouldn’t cooperate with Obama, we shouldn’t cooperate with Democrats’ — that it represents compromise, weakness, and that the broader character of America is at stake, regardless of whatever policy arguments might be made.”

As a result, Obama said, the ability for future presidents to get things done “is going to be primarily dependent on how many votes we’ve got in each chamber and our ability to move public opinion.”

“It is not, these days, going to be as dependent on classic dealmaking between Democrats and Republicans,” Obama said, “playing enough golf or drinking enough Scotch with members [of Congress]. … What matters is that all [Trump’s] constituencies or [Palin’s] constituencies are watching Fox News and listening to Rush [Limbaugh], and they’re going to pay a price if they’re seen as being too cozy with a Democratic president.”

Trump receives Palin's endorsement in Ames, Iowa, Jan. 19, 2016. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)Trump receives Palin's endorsement in Ames, Iowa, Jan. 19, 2016. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Trump receives Palin’s endorsement in Ames, Iowa, Jan. 19, 2016. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

The line between Palin and Trump was visible in January, when she endorsed Trump before the Iowa caucuses.

“No more pussyfootin’ around!” Palin said. “Are you ready for a commander in chief, you ready for a commander in chief who will let our warriors do their job and go kick ISIS ass? Ready for someone who will secure our borders, to secure our jobs, and to secure our homes? Ready to make America great again, are you ready to stump for Trump? I’m here to support the next president of the United States, Donald Trump.”

During the GOP primaries, Palin stumped for Trump several times but has since largely disappeared from view. Unlike most of Trump’s surrogates, she did not appear at the Republican National Convention in July.

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