How Palin Is like Clinton

2 minute read
Mark Halperin

Bill Clinton is the best handicapper in American politics. So when, on the eve of his annual Clinton Global Initiative conference in New York City, he assessed the power and peril of Sarah Palin , everybody paid attention.

Clinton called the former Alaska governor “tough,” “compelling,” “attractive” and “resilient” in an interview with ABC News. Those are four traits the former President can appreciate, not least because they have been key to his own success.

(See photos of Sarah Palin’s fashion looks.)

He wasn’t all praise when it came to Palin. He implied that she has been successful despite — or maybe because of — the fact that she is thriving in a “period in politics that’s sort of fact-free.”

(Watch a video of Sarah Palin and her Iowa fans.)

But he singled out Palin’s appeal to the kind of economically downscale, nonurban voter for whom he ferociously battled in Arkansas and later on the national stage. Clinton didn’t always win over those constituents, but he always courted them. He suggested that Democrats these days have forgotten the necessity of fighting for every vote. For some, Palin might be easy to mock, but her fresh, accessible allure has already snagged a lot of fans nationwide. That’s a Bubba 101 lesson for Obama , who talked about “bitter” people who “cling to guns or religion” during the 2008 campaign.

Palin is like Clinton in another way: what doesn’t kill her only makes her stronger. And as the world gets ready for the midterm elections and the start of the epic contest in which Republicans will pick their champion to go into battle against Obama, Democrats should take heed. Palin, however flawed, is very much alive and, despite what her doubters say, extraordinarily strong. “It’s always a mistake to underestimate your opponent,” said the master from Hope.

See Bill Clinton in the top 10 presidential pop culture moments.

See the top 10 post-election Sarah Palin quips.

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