Does Perry see Palin as a threat?

After Palin gave two speeches this weekend that positioned herself on the side of reform, with a proven and demonstrable record, and squarely against big government and crony capitalism that invoked the outsider spirit of Ronald Reagan, the GOP establishment, along with Rick Perry‘s cheerleaders, immediately saw Palin as serious threat to their plans. 

But this was hardly the first time where the GOP establishment and Palin’s competitors saw her as a threat. 

Soon after the 2008 election, in which Palin was forced to basically become a press secretary for a candidate who seemed to not know anything he stood for and perhaps the most disastrously and incompetent presidential campaign in the history of the United States, she spoke at a Republican Governors Association meeting. 

Unshackled from the constraints of the McCain campaign, Palin was at ease, and it was clear she was a threat then to the GOP establishment and, in particular, current presidential candidate Rick Perry, who abruptly, awkwardly, and prematurely ended Palin’s press conference 15 minutes before it was supposed to, when it was clear Palin was not the bumbling idiot many had assumed she was. 

Should Palin enter the 2012 presidential contest, she would threaten Mitt Romney and Perry, and this moment may be symbolic of where the rivalry between Palin and Perry began even though reports have said that Palin and Perry remain friends, especially after Palin’s endorsement of Perry during the 2010 election cycle helped Perry win his primary against Kay Bailey Hutchison and get elected again. 

In the few minutes Palin had to speak at the RGA conference in 2008, Palin said now that the campaign had ended, she was essentially free to do press conference. When a reporter referred to her “political celebrity,” Palin, without batting an eyelash, shot the notion that she was a celebrity and focused on substantive issues such as domestic energy production and the Republican governors working as a team to balance budgets and work on health care and immigration reform in the states. When a reporter cluelessly, and in a condescending way, referred to Palin’s news conference as her first formal news conference, Palin reminded those in the room that she had been doing press conferences for years in Alaska (this was perfectly symbol and harbinger of a national media that did not know anything about her record of reform and fighting crony capitalism in Alaska). 

One thing that was striking was how often Palin called for everyone to be on the same team while Perry seemed jealous that Palin was shining. Since then, Palin has been trying to unite the GOP while her rivals and purported teammates have done everything to try to not be good teammates. 

Jack Thompson, who covered the event for HUMAN EVENTS, described the scene from that day:

The Republican Governors Conference Press Guidelines promised that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would “take approximately 20 minutes of questions” at today’s morning press conference. Instead, this press conference, attended by 150 local and national media and taped by 26 video cameras, disintegrated into a fiasco when Texas Governor Rick Perry shut it down after only five minutes and four questions.

Eight other governors assembled on the stage, all men, seemed visibly uncomfortable with the “Palin at center stage” format. When Perry stepped in front of Palin at the podium to announce it was over just as it was getting started, Palin looked irritated, and the media shouted, “You’ve got to be kidding,” “This is ridiculous,” “Come on,” and “We were promised more questions.” 

Later, Palin gave remarks, described by Thompson, that eerily resonates today, especially her reliance on her husband Todd and her warnings about the Obama Adminstration being addicted to “OPM (Other People’s Money). Here’s Thompson’s account of Palin’s speech:

Palin, after the truncated press conference, gave a prepared twenty-minute speech in a large hall to approximately 400 members of the RGA … and the media. Palin recounted what it was like to go through the campaign and what lay ahead for the GOP. Some quotes of note:

— She began by joking that she filled the last two months “with a few speeches, meeting important people who change the world, like Tina Fey, and opportunities to expand my wardrobe.”

— She thanked President Bush for having discharged, over the last eight years, his most important duty of office — keeping us safe. This was met with long applause.

— “God is in control, and He decided it was not our time and not our moment.”

— “We wish President Obama well, but as the chief executives of the various states it will be our job to lead by example, to oppose any more unfunded federal mandates and the growth of the federal government. All Republican governors embrace the federalist principle that the government closest to the people is the most responsive and most responsible.”

— She took a swipe at what she called the addiction to “opium (Other People’s Money),” found in bail outs that reward bad corporate decisions.

— Finally, in the area of policy, she repeatedly noted that the Republican leadership in Washington had over the last decade betrayed the conservative principles and values of the Party, and that it is up to Republic governors, not to the failed GOP leadership in Washington, to lead the GOP back to power. 

To conclude her prepared comments, she got very personal in tone. She said that, during the campaign, her “real right hand man was my husband Todd, and, in the future, I am to rely upon him more and on others less.”

She received sustained applause when she remembered all the teenaged girls who came up to her and told her they were excited she had shown “[t]here is no glass ceiling on achievement” and “[o]ne day, a woman will be President.” 

Palin has formidable skills when she is her own person and candidate. It is something another formidable politician (much in the way an aging quarterback gets threatened when he sees someone younger and better get drafted), Perry, saw immediately. Should Palin enter the race and be a challenger to Perry, another video clip that will probably be played endlessly is the one below in which Palin, while delivering a substantive speech on energy policy in Texas, playfully referred to Texas as Alaska’s “little sister state.”