Michael Gaynor
Sarah Palin: principled and anti-establishment in Alaska, but not in New Hampshire
By Michael Gaynor
September 15, 2010

Sorry, Sarah. Wrong on both scores: Lamontagne's "the true conservative" in the race, as Laura Ingraham said last December, and the story about the quiet payout approved by Ayotte when she was angling for reappointment is true. Palin's connections to the Susan B. Anthony List can't change that. (See, for example, Lisa Miller's "Saint Sarah" article in the June 21, 2010 issue of Newsweek, at p. 34, reporting Palin's speech at a Susan B. Anthony List breakfast in Washington, D.C. "to 550 women who had paid at least $150 each to the Susan B. Anthony List...."

The legendary New York City mayor Fiorella LaGuardia famously endeared himself to the citizenry by admitting, "When I make a mistake, it's a beaut."

A former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska would have been (and still would be) well advised to admit she picked the wrong candidate in the New Hampshire Republican Senate primary.

In Alaska, Sarah Palin supported life, fought corruption and made it all the way to the governor's office as an insurgent. She challenged the GOP establishment there and won. She beat Governor Frank Murkowski herself in 2006, and helped Joe Miller to upset his daughter, Lisa Murkowski, in the GOP Senate primary this year.

But, in the first presidential primary state, New Hampshire, 2012 Republican presidential possibility Palin swooped in to endorse the establishment candidate, former New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte. (In New Hampshire, the Attorney General is appointed, not elected, and Ayotte had been appointed by a Republican governor and then reappointed by a pro-choice liberal Democrat governor, but that reappointment apparently did not give Palin pause.)

Last July Palin gave Ayotte a Facebook endorsement.

CNN reported it this way (http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/07/19/palin-makes-a-move-in-new-hampshire/):

"Sarah Palin sided with another 'Mama Grizzly' in a prominent Republican primary on Monday, endorsing Kelly Ayotte for Senate in New Hampshire.

"The endorsement is Palin's first political move in the state, which will once again hold the first-in-the-nation Republican presidential primary in February 2012. She has already backed midterm candidates in the other key early states of Iowa and South Carolina, but has not visited New Hampshire since the 2008 presidential race."

"'Kelly is the strongest commonsense conservative who can win in the fall,' Palin wrote on her Facebook page. 'I knew I liked her when I met her earlier this year, and I know this Granite Grizzly will represent New Hampshire with distinction in Washington.'"

Putting aside that New Hampshire has black bears, not grizzly bears, suggesting Palin's lack of familiarity with New Hampshire, Palin's pick of the establishment hopeful was duly noted.

CNN: "Palin's endorsement is somewhat of a surprise, given Ayotte's sometimes troubled relationship with conservative activists in the Granite State. She won the early backing of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, earning her a reputation as the 'establishment' figure in the race."

It looked like a good way for Palin to lay the groundwork to run in the 2012 New Hampshire Republican presidential primary. CNN quoted an unnamed "top Republican strategist in the state, who is already doing work for one of Palin's potential rivals in 2012" as describing an Ayotte nomination as a "huge boost" for Palin if she decides to seek the Republican presidential nomination.

It also looked like a good way for Ayotte to put the race away.


"Having Palin's backing could fix all [of Ayotte's troubles with conservative activists], according to several top Republicans in the state.

"'This is exactly what Kelly needs to get things moving,' said Mike Dennehy, a Republican strategist who is not working for any candidate in the race. 'Kelly is having problems in the conservative movement and she is seen as a consummate insider, having been endorsed and handpicked by the Senatorial committee. She seems establishment, and I think this Palin endorsement will kill both of those negatives with one stone."

It didn't.

Instead, after the truth about Ayotte's quiet approval of a $300,000 payment to Planned Parenthood as the "prevailing party" in the case Ayotte claimed to have "won" and Palin apparently believed Ayotte had "won" made the public radar screen this month, it raised serious questions about Palin's judgment and anti-establishment credentials.

Apparently Palin is anti-establishment except when she's pro-establishment.

Without question, the true conservative and most pro-life candidate in the New Hampshire Republican Senate primary race is Ovide Lamontagne. He is the only Republican hopeful to support a Human Life Amendment, and he opposed the confirmation of now Justice Sonia Sotomayor. In sharp contrast, Ayotte supports both Justice Sotomayor's confirmation and the euphemistic "medical emergency" exception for abortions used to justify abortions even though the life of the mother is not at risk.

Ayotte is the only female in a seven-person race and her sex apparently led the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, a national pro-life political action committee, to opt for a much less pro-life female instead of a much more pro-life male.

On July 15, 2010, the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund announced its endorsement of Ayotte. In pertinent part, the press release stated:

"'New Hampshire families deserve the pro-life feminine leadership Kelly Ayotte has already demonstrated in her position as New Hampshire's first female Attorney General,' said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of SBA List Candidate Fund. 'Kelly is committed to rescinding taxpayer funding of abortion in health care. She has expressed her strong determination to be a vocal advocate for women and unborn children in abortion debates on the floor of the U.S. Senate.'

"A new women's movement which affirms its original pro-life roots is making its way to the U.S. Senate — where there is currently a void of pro-life women — and Kelly Ayotte is one of its brightest new stars. Ayotte will give new life to the pro-life perspective inherent in the early suffragist approach to women's rights. Elizabeth Cady Stanton perhaps said it best: 'When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit' (a letter to Julia Ward Howe, 1873). We are proud to put our political machine — built for the purpose of supporting women like Kelly — behind her candidacy."

Lamontagne is the strongest pro-life candidate, but...he's a man!

When the $300,000 Planned Parenthood payout was reported in the New Hampshire press, the Susan B. Anthony folks did not let their surprise stop them from reasserting their support of Ayotte.

On September 3, 2010, a Susan B. Anthony List press release that purported to "answer[] allegations that... Ayotte had no objection to a monetary settlement covering court fees for Planned Parenthood and that her campaign misled the public about the facts of the Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England case to the United State Supreme Court.

"'Kelly Ayotte's fight for parental rights further established the constitutionality of parental involvement laws in other states,' said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

'Attempts to paint her as anything less than a heroine of the pro-life movement and champion of parental rights are clearly politically motivated. A study of the facts shows that Kelly Ayotte did everything she could to protect the hard-earned dollars of New Hampshire citizens from going to Planned Parenthood.'"

That "study" reached false conclusions, blaming the $300,000 payment on the repeal and claimong that "the lower court ordered the state to reach a settlement with Planned Parenthood" and "Ayotte objected to that ruling but the state was forced by the court to pay."


Ayotte did NOT object to that ruling (which was erroneous as a matter of law based on United States Supreme Court precedent). She could and should have appealed, but she chose not to and instead quietly negotiated a settlement and secured her own reappointment from the pro-choice Democrat governor who had filed an amicus brief in the case in favor of Planned Parenthood).

"The facts reveal that Kelly Ayotte consistently represented the best interests of New Hampshire residents.... Ayotte fought to prevent New Hampshire tax dollars from going to Planned Parenthood but was legally forced to do so despite her objections once the parental notification law was reversed by a new legislature,' Dannenfelser said."


She was NOT "legally forced." She chose to settle quietly instead of to appeal.

Dannenfelser is a co-founder of Team Sarah, president of the Susan B. Anthony List and, obviously, an ardent supporter of Ayotte.)

Later, Palin did a robo-call for Ayotte. To access that robo-call, go to http://teamsarah.ning.com/.

In that robo-call. Palin described Ayotte as "the true conservative" and decried "attacks" on her s "false."

Sorry, Sarah. Wrong on both scores: Lamontagne's "the true conservative" in the race, as Laura Ingraham said last December, and the story about the quiet payout approved by Ayotte when she was angling for reappointment is true. Palin's connections to the Susan B. Anthony List can't change that. (See, for example, Lisa Miller's "Saint Sarah" article in the June 21, 2010 issue of Newsweek, at p. 34, reporting Palin's speech at a Susan B. Anthony List breakfast in Washington, D.C. "to 550 women who had paid at least $150 each to the Susan B. Anthony List...."

In that article, Miller wrote (p. 35): "To millions of women, Palin's authenticity makes her a sister in arms — 'Sisters!' she called out in Washington, as if at a revival — a beautiful, fearless, principled fighter who shares their struggles."

The beauty and fearlessness are not in question, but, thanks to that robo-call, Palin's authenticity and principles are.

Miller also wrote (p. 35) that "leftist critics continue to shred [Palin] as a cynical, shallow, ill-informed opportunist."

Those leftist critics have to be pleased with Palin's involvement in the New Hampshire Republican Senate primary, because she gave them ammunition.

If Palin had done what President Obama seems constitutionally incapable of doing — admit a big mistake, Palin would have confounded those leftist critics instead of helped them.

What a pity.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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