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Sarah Palin and the Tea Party

The people's governor makes a play for the most interesting sector of American politics.

12:30 PM, Feb 3, 2010 • By MATTHEW CONTINETTI
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Palin's self-identification with the Tea Party is important. Clearly she sees parallels between the popular movements that brought her to office in Wasilla and Juneau and the movement currently pulling American politics to the right. Palin relishes her role as political outsiders -- the Tea Partiers are "passionate outsiders," as well. If Obama persists in his attempts to legislate a liberal-left agenda, and the economy continues to stagnate, these passionate outsiders may decide not only the 2012 GOP primary. They may decide the next president of the United States.

But the move carries dangers. I've previously argued that Palin needs to address the concerns of voters who liked her initially but now feel she isn't ready for high office. Some of them may be in the Tea Party -- but certainly not all of them. A successful national politician is forever seeking the support of new voting blocs; Palin already has a lock on the pro-life, anti-big-government vote. That's a start. But the key to the presidency lies in combining that vote with the moderate suburbanites who voted Democratic in 2006 and 2008 but began to return to the GOP in 2009. Does leading the Tea Party increase Palin's chances of accomplishing this goal?

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