'This Week' Transcript: Axelrod

MARCUS: Well, yes, I think I'll withhold my rearing, unless there's an adverse event towards one of my cubs.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

MARCUS: I -- there's been a lot of talk about this video as signaling a kind of new, kinder, gentler Sarah Palin, trying to broaden her appeal beyond the kind of Tea Party base. I don't get it. I think it's the same, old, vapid, platitudinous Sarah Palin, not to put too fine a point on it.

There is not a shred, not a shred of substance in this ad. What are the adverse events and what do you intend to do about them?

TAPPER: Reihan's shaking his head. You liked it.

SALAM: I thought it was an outstanding ad, very impressive, and I've got to say, quite a lot of issue -- non-issue issue ads from the Obama campaign during the 2008 that proved very successful. Basically, Republicans have a problem.

TAPPER: Yes, we can.

MARCUS: "We're for vapidity."

SALAM: They have a problem. They have a problem, which is the gender problem. They have a huge problem with connecting with upper-middle-class women. And, you know, Sarah Palin might not be able to do that, but working-class women are huge. They're very important. Get them out there. Get them energized. Get them active.

And if you look at Hillary Clinton circa this time in the cycle, she had very high negatives. And I don't think that issue ads were going to help her with those high negatives. Similarly, Sarah Palin has sky-high negatives. So I think that that's something she has to manage, something she has to work on, and this is a kind of plucky Sarah Palin that I think really appeals to people, that's not as hard-edged, not as polarizing, and I think that it was really impressive, far more impressive than anything I've seen from her in a long time.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, Sarah Palin as a political figure is much more of a cultural statement than she is a policy agenda, and she really does divide the electorate along cultural lines. If there is an audience for Sarah Palin, as Reihan suggests, it is a blue-collar female audience, which does relate to her in some ways, but she is an enormously polarizing figure with a real low ceiling.

If she runs in 2012, I believe you would see the Republican Party divide along the same class and cultural lines that the Democrats did in '08 between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

TAPPER: But, quickly, are mama grizzlies, as she predicts, going to be a force this November?

BROWNSTEIN: I know about the lower 48, how many grizzlies there are. But yes. Yes. You know, blue-collar -- if she is referring there to culturally conservative, working-class white women, they have moved away from the Democrats pretty sharply under Obama. There's a lot more erosion there than there is the upper-middle-class, where he's still pretty strong.

So in that sense, she is speaking to a constituency. Whether she is the voice that you want to ultimately be defining your party, that's another question.

TAPPER: George?

WILL: She's trying to get -- flatter people by telling them -- they may be grandmothers -- but telling them they're grizzly bears, and it makes them feel good.

On the vapidness meter, that ranks nowhere near, "We are the ones we have been waiting for," which was Obama's way of flattering the self-esteem of his supporters.

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