WASHINGTON – Sarah Palin, a former vice presidential nominee and GOP lightning rod, says that while Massachusetts may "put up with” Senator Scott Brown, the conservatives in her home state of Alaska “wouldn’t stand for” his more moderate views, a criticism that strikes at the core of discord among top national Republicans over how closely to hew to the conservative Tea Party movement.
Palin, in an interview on Fox Business Network, was asked whether the Massachusetts Republican was “on notice” for siding with Democrats on several key votes.
“Well, you know, take the consideration, though, that that's Massachusetts,” Palin said. “Perhaps they’re not going to look for such a hard-core constitutional conservative there, and they're going to put up with Scott Brown and some of the antics there.”
“But up here in Alaska, and so many places in the US where we have a pioneering, independent spirit, and we have an expectation that our representatives in D.C. will respect the will of the people and the intelligence of the people,” she added. “Well, up here, we wouldn't stand for that.”
A spokeswoman for Brown did not directly engage with Palin but defended the senator's record, saying he was focused on the Bay State.
"Senator Brown's votes are based on what's in the best interests of Massachusetts and he has made his priorities job creation, controlling spending, and reducing the deficit," Gail Gitcho, his communications director, said in a statement. "All Republicans can agree on that."
The back-and-forth immediately ricocheted across the internet. The Daily Caller, a political website, asked, “Sarah Palin vs. Scott Brown: Hottest intra-party feud ever?” and added, “You could sell this matchup on pay-per-view.”
Massachusetts Republicans seemed to have a collective rolling of the eyes at Palin's comments, defending Brown but not wanting to explicitly criticize their party's former vice presidential nominee.
"I'm not getting involved," said State Senator Robert Hedlund, a Weymouth Republican. "There's no upside for me in this one. Trust me."
“I think Scott Brown absolutely represents the will of the people, and he has their respect," said Peter Torkildsen, former chairman of the state GOP and a former Massachusetts US representative. “Some of the nation’s best known pioneers come from Massachusetts, going back hundreds of years. I’ll certainly stand by the pioneers of Massachseutts any day.”
Jennifer Nassour, chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party said, "Brown is the most popular political figure in the state for a reason – he’s an independent voice for our state and we stand by our Republican US Senator from Massachusetts.”
Brown, who declined requests for an interview, is traveling over the next week on a campaign swing to help raise money for like-minded Republicans ahead of the crucial midterm elections. The Globe reported this morning on the more mainstream GOP candidates that Brown has been supporting so far in the midterm elections. Palin, on the other hand, has been a strong supporter of several candidates backed by the Tea Party movement.
Palin and Brown have never been particularly close. Toward the end of Brown’s campaign in January, the SEIU launched a $685,000 ad campaign seeking to link Brown to Palin. But the former vice presidential nominee never appeared in Massachusetts, and Brown did not ask for her help.
“I would have [endorsed him] if he had requested it,” Palin told Fox News after Brown’s victory.
Palin called Brown to congratulate him after he won, but they have had little interaction since. Brown skipped the Tea Party rallies earlier this year that Palin was headlining in Boston and Washington.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.