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Michael Murphy and the Palin-Romney Feud

July 18, 2010

For Democrats with a strong schadenfreude streak, the recent dust-up between GOP White House hopefuls Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin is pure joy. After all, the growing feud pits Romney, a man who has changed his mind about virtually everything against Palin, who knows virtually nothing. Better still, perhaps the most honest assessment of both conservative players came from one of their own, high-profile Republican consultant Michael Murphy.
As Politico reported Friday, the imbroglio started after a Mark Halperin piece in Time in which an unnamed Romney aide said of the half-term Alaska governor, "She's not a serious human being." Another Romney intimate warned:

"If she's standing up there in a debate and the answers are more than 15 seconds long, she's in trouble."

The response from the Mama Grizzly's den was immediate. A Palin aide declared, "It shocks me that anyone would try to do that," adding:

"For Washington consultants to sit around and personally disparage the governor anonymously to reporters is unfortunate and counterproductive and frankly immature."

Of course, it's much more fun when they do it on the record.
Which is what Republican strategist and McCain pal Michael Murphy did last year. In the wake of her resignation as governor, Murphy deemed Palin an "awful choice" as McCain's running mate and a "political train wreck." Then in a rare moment of conservative candor, Murphy presented the flip-side to all the right-wing's heavy breathing over Palin from the likes of Rich Lowry, Matthew Continetti, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter:

"If Sarah Palin looked like Golda Meir, would we even be talking about her today?"

Of course, Mike Murphy's vitriol can brushed off as the bias of a former Romney advisor. But as it turns out, Murphy caused his own man some serious trouble back in 2005.
As he prepared his 2008 presidential run, Mitt Romney faced the difficult task of reversing the pro-choice line he took in becoming governor of Massachusetts in order to appeal to the virulently anti-abortion voters of the GOP primaries. Romney jettisoned his past pronouncements such as "I believe women should have the right to make their own choice" and "I fully respect and will fully protect a woman's right to choose," instead declaring by the fall of 2005, "My political philosophy is pro-life"
And it was then that Michael Murphy said what everyone else what thinking about Mitt Romney and the abortion issue:

"He's been a pro-life Mormon faking it as a pro-choice friendly."

As his assessment spread like wildfire, Murphy was quick to backpedal, claiming he "was discussing a characterization the governor's critics use."
As it turns out, Michael Murphy is again in hot water, this time in California. An "entertainment/production" company started by Murphy pocketed $1 million in fees from GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, despite Murphy's own flirtation with her primary opponent Steve Poizner.
In any event, when it comes to his 2012 rival Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney can speak for himself. In fact, he already has. While he reacted this week to the "anonymous numbskulls" by declaring "she's proven her smarts," in May 2009, Romney laughed off Time magazine's selection of Sarah Palin as one of America's most influential people:

"But was that the issue on the most beautiful people or the most influential people?"

The Republican primaries may not have started yet, but it's not too early to get the popcorn and watch the show.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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