Dick Armey: Palin More ‘Cheerleader’ than ‘Captain’; Not ‘Digging Herself Out’ of Post-Campaign Hole

By Gorman Gorman

Nov 13, 2009 1:42pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: Can Sarah Palin make a political comeback? Not everyone’s convinced.

With Palin mania set to sweep the nation anew tied to the release of her memoir, key voices in the Republican establishment are voicing skepticism about the former Alaska governor’s ability to rebuild her national standing.

On ABCNews.com’s “Top Line” today, Dick Armey, the former House majority leader who now heads the grassroots antigovernment group FreedomWorks, expressed praise for Palin as a “self-made woman” with a proven ability to draw crowds.

But Armey said she hasn’t shown a commitment to doing the hard work of rehabilitating an image that took a beating during last year’s presidential campaign.

“So she’s kind having to dig herself out of a hole if she wants to regain standing for consideration for a future nomination. And by all accounts, it doesn’t appear she’s doing a very effective job of digging herself out of that hole,” said Armey, R-Texas.

Armey continued: “I think she’s probably a person of greater ability than what she’s given credit to. She probably has more sense than what she’s given credit for. But I do think there’s this whole perception-is-reality thing right now, and she’s got a terribly, terribly rough row to hoe if she’s ever going to regain some standing and make her competitive.”

Armey also disputed the notion that Palin stands ready to tap into the energy of the vast crowds that have come out at the kinds of “tea party” protests FreedomWorks and others have helped pull together.

“You don’t tap into that energy unless you join it. You’ve got to be there, you’ve got to show up. And you can’t remain removed and aloof and send in a memorandum or post something on your blog, and have these folks belief that you’re really part of the movement,” Armey said.

“You have to really go out and walk and work among them. And I’ve seen very few people who are willing to do that. The fact is, these folks are saying, ‘You know, the problem with all you big-shot politicians is you sit on your pedestals and make your pronouncements. Why don’t you join us? Get on the street. And go to work for something. Roll up your sleeves and be involved with us.’ ”

“And they don’t have a lot of time for someone who stands removed and says, ‘Right on.’ They’re not looking for a cheerleader; they’re looking for a captain of the team,” Armey said. Watch the full interview with Dick Armey HERE. We also checked in with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who told us that few Republicans in Washington are taking the possibility of a Palin run in 2012 seriously — but noted that her forthcoming book tour could be an attempt to test those waters. Watch the full discussion with George Stephanopoulos HERE.

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