Mark McKinnon: Palin Gets ‘Passing Grade — But Just Barely’

By Lindsey Ellerson

Apr 16, 2009 1:59pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein and David Chalian report: On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, spoke about the struggles Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has had in readjusting to her role as governor of Alaska.

McKinnon — who left the McCain campaign before the senator chose Palin as his running mate — acknowledged that it hasn’t been entirely smooth for Palin.

“Well, it’s always an artful dance to try and balance national ambition versus you know, your local responsibilities as an office holder, and clearly she’s trying to do that,” McKinnon said. “She wants to stay relevant nationally but also do due diligence for her — for the day job that she has now.”

Asked to grade her performance in the aftermath of the presidential campaign, McKinnon said:

“I’d give her, you know, a passing grade — but just barely. But listen, she’s a rock star in the Republican Party and you know, as long as she can . . . do her job at home adequately then she’s going to continue to be a big player on the national scene for years to come.”

We also chatted with McKinnon about his work trying to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, the bill that is organized labor’s top priority for the year. McKinnon is working as a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, a business-funded group that’s lobbying to spike the so-called “card-check” bill.

“It is the most radical rewrite of labor legislation since the 1930s. And it is nothing other than a nakedly artificial piece of legislation designed to do nothing but turn around labor’s ranks and does absolutely nothing for the economy, or for businesses, or for workers. This is a solution in search of a problem,” he said.

“They don’t have 60 votes [for it in the Senate] because any right-thinking, common-sense elected officials recognize that this is a political nightmare and a public-policy disaster and I think frankly, President Obama and smart Democrats are really happy that they don’t have to vote on this thing,” McKinnon said.

He also spoke about how George W. Bush is viewing his post-presidency period.

“I just go up to Crawford and ride bikes, but I can tell you, having done that fairly recently, that . . . former President Bush is in a very good mood, he’s very positive,” McKinnon said. “He’s not cringing in the corner. . . and he’s . . . been off the radar screen, I think very diplomatically allowing President Obama to do his job without jumping into his business.

“And so he’s thinking about his book, he’s thinking about the library and also speaking engagements and talking about his freedom agenda and other issues that were relevant to his presidency. But as he always has, he has a very positive, optimistic attitude about everything,” he said.

Watch our interview with McKinnon HERE.

We also spoke with Politico’s Ken Vogel about Palin and Gov. Rick Perry’s comments about the possibility of Texas seceding from the union.

Watch the interview with Vogel HERE.

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