Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has made her Facebook page into a bully pulpit, issuing policy statements on such issues as nuclear proliferation and oil drilling. Now she’s learning that social media can be more than a one-way system of message delivery — thanks to an avalanche of comments from tea party supporters taking issue with her Facebook endorsement of Carly Fiorina in California’s upcomingGOP Senate primary.
Many of the supporters of the small-government tea party insurgency regard Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO who stumped for the McCain-Palin ticket while serving as its adviser on financial issues in 2008, as a RINO, or “Republican in name only” — a term generally applied to pro-business moderates who don’t always support socially conservative positions.
That was very much a dominant sentiment in the hundreds of comments weighing in on Palin’s characterization of Fiorina as a “Commonsense Conservative.” (Spelling, punctuation and grammar in the originals are retained throughout.)
“Sarah, I am a huge fan of yours. I can forgive you for backing McCain, but..Carly Fiorino is no friend of yours,” writes one. “She didn’t support you when the MSM was attacking. Please rethink your position and support Chuck Devore. Jim DeMint is behind him, the Tea Party Express supports him and you should too.”
“We total understood why she endorsed McCain over J.D. Hayward (and secretly felt that she would be relieved when Hayward beat mcCain and then headed for a strong chance to win in the General Election),” writes another. “But Palin’s endorsement of Fiorna will backfire.”
Palin quickly updated her post to defend Fiorina’s social conservatism. Her original post chiefly praised Fiorina’s background as a businesswoman who, Palin argued, has what it takes to beat Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer in November.
“I’d like to add a few things about my Carly endorsement because some reaction right out of the chute calls for more information,” Palin wrote. Palin touted Fiorina’s endorsement by anti-abortion groups and the NRA, and her opposition to “cap and tax” energy legislation and “amnesty” on immigration.
Palin encounted no pushback to speak of when she posted a similarFacebook endorsement of Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who won the party primary last week — but that’s probably because tea party supporters had already lined up to back him. In California, however, the movement chose state Assemblyman Chuck Devore as its favorite in the crowded GOP primary field.
So why did she endorse Fiorina? Their shared background on the McCain campaign is almost certainly a factor — though that apparently hasn’t won Palin the same pass she got from tea party activists when she stumped for Sen. John McCain in Arizona against his tea-party-aligned primary challenger J.D. Hayworth in April.