Sarah Palin has Obama in her sights, telling FoxNews.com she “would be willing” to challenge him in the 2012 presidential race.
The former Alaska governor, in an interview Saturday on the sidelines of the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, said Obama’s “lack of experience” has held him back his first year in office and that she would put her credentials up against his any day.
“I would be willing to if I believe that it’s right for the country,” Palin said when asked if she would run for president in 2012.
She qualified the statement, adding that she sees “many” other potential candidates who are “in as strong or stronger position than I am to take on the White House and if they’re in a better position than I in three years, I’ll support them.”
But the former GOP vice presidential nominee told “Fox News Sunday”: “I won’t close the door that perhaps could be open for me in the future.”
Palin is doing more than simply dipping her toe in the water with tentative talk of presidential aspirations. Since unexpectedly leaving the Alaska Governor’s Mansion last year, she’s formed a political action committee, she’s started endorsing and supporting candidates in the Republican primaries, she’s published a book and she’s been agitating the administration on a regular basis.
She delivered the keynote address Saturday at the tea party convention, using it to hammer Obama as soft on terrorism. When convention organizer Judson Phillips mentioned the idea of “President Palin” in a question-and-answer session afterward, audience members leapt to their feet and burst into a chant of “Run, Sarah, Run.”
In the near-term, Palin said she is going to focus her energy on the upcoming GOP primaries, and that she may support “hundreds” of candidates in the months ahead.
“I do want competition to allow the cream of the crop to rise (in the GOP contests),” Palin said, adding that her support would translate into everything from donations to campaign rallies. “There are hundreds of candidates on local, state and on the national level that hopefully we’ll be able to help.”
Palin recently endorsed Rand Paul, the son of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. She said she was attracted to his limited government platform and that she’s already donated to the campaign.
Asked which other races she’s focusing on, Palin, who’s a Fox News analyst, said she’ll “do whatever I can to help” the Republican nominee, whoever he or she is, against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Nevada.
“If the election were today, Reid … would go down,” Palin said.
However, she said she doesn’t have any favorites in the Republican primary — and dismissed the idea that she fancies herself a political kingmaker.
“That’s going too far because I do not have that power nor desire,” she said.
During her Saturday keynote address and in her interview with FoxNews.com, Palin pointed to the tea party movement as the surging political force that will make waves in the upcoming elections.
She said tea party support will “absolutely” be critical for candidates in some districts and that the GOP should not be scared of the movement.
“It absolutely helps (the Republican Party) and those who are fearful about it and those who are trying to stir up controversy about it — they obviously are apprehensive in terms of the message getting out there, and those people are gonna get thumped because this is a good message,” she said. “Who can argue this movement?”
As Palin aligns herself more closely with the evolving tea party movement, some surveys suggest she could have the support to eventually mount a competitive presidential run — despite tough questions raised during the 2008 campaign about her experience and qualifications. A poll last week had her leading, by a few points, the pack of potential GOP candidates. The Research 2000 poll also showed Republican voters viewing her as more qualified to be president than Obama by a 4-1 margin.
Asked whether she believes she’s more qualified than Obama, Palin showed little hesitation.
“In the campaign, we tried to bring attention to the fact that Obama had really not a lot of experience. And I do say that my executive experience, as an administrator, as a team manager if you will was, and so was John McCain’s as a matter of fact, was stronger and we had more experience than Barack Obama did in terms of managing huge multi-billion dollar budgets and thousands of employees … and that hasn’t changed,” Palin said.
“I think that President Obama with all due respect, his lack of experience is really made manifest in the way that decisions are made in the White House today,” she added.
Palin slammed Obama in her Nashville speech for his foreign and national security policies. And with health care reform on the ropes, she told FoxNews.com it’s time to pull the plug.
“I sure wish that the present tool being used to reform health care would die, but I don’t trust as far as I can throw them some of the people who are saying ok, we’ll slow down,” she said. “What they’re working on today there in Congress and the White House, it needs to die.”