Citing Trig, Palin Says “Give Health Care Reform a Chance”

by Randy Shaw on April 1, 2010

Citing her son Trig having Down syndrome, former GOP Vice-Presidential candidate and Tea Party icon Sarah Palin told an audience in Waco, Texas today that she thinks health care reform deserves a chance to succeed: “I’ve always said that kids with special needs deserve special help. And if the recent health care legislation can help kids like Trig, it deserves a chance.”

While some Tea Party members accused Palin of “flip-flopping” on health care reform, Sean Hannity of FOX News disagreed: “Sarah Palin is not the extremist that much of the media likes to portray her and she supports bipartisan solutions when they make sense.” On the heels of last weekend’s campaign appearance for John McCain, Palin appears to be moving to expand her base in preparation for her expected presidential run in 2012.

Progressives may be underestimating Sarah Palin. Long viewed as too uninformed and extremist to win a national election, Palin is repackaging herself as a moderate – without jeopardizing her conservative base.

Palin’s Positioning

With polls showing overwhelming support for protecting children with pre-existing conditions, it makes little sense for Republicans to be trapped on the wrong side of this issue. That’s why even conservative pundits are largely praising Sarah Palin’s announcement that she wants to “give health care reform a chance to succeed.” Palin movingly described the problems her own family would face if unable to obtain insurance because of her son Trig having Down syndrome. She told the crowd, “as a parent, I believe the government needs to help people in such situations.”

Palin’s statement comes only days after she surprised supporters by appearing at a campaign event for her former running mate, Senator John McCain. McCain and his former campaign team have been bad mouthing Palin since the November election, and his primary opponent, J.D. Hayworth, is a big favorite of the Tea Party crowd.

Nevertheless, Palin appeared next to McCain, telling the crowd that McCain was in fact aligned with the Tea Party. While media reports indicated that many attendees were Hayworth supporters, Palin’s backing of McCain is consistent with her attempt at rebranding herself as a “mainstream” and “common sense” Republican.

Next Steps

Sarah Palin is the least predictable of politicians, and nobody has gotten rich betting on her next steps. But the talk is that she will either start a television talk show and/or radio show, distinguishing herself enough from Hannity, Limbaugh, Levin and the other right-wing talkers to bolster her more “moderate” image.

Will it work? With Mitt Romney on the defensive over health care, and no other strong candidate likely to emerge, Sarah Palin is well situated to be the Republican Party presidential nominee in 2012.

It’s becoming clearer each day that the Republican Party either nominates Palin to head its ticket in 2012 or alienates its activist base. And you can be sure that if she is again asked in an interview what newspapers she reads, she’ll quickly name the Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and other Rupert Murdoch owned publications.

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Randy Shaw is the author of Beyond the Fields: Cesar Chavez, the UFW and the Struggle for Justice in the 21st Century.

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