Nicolle Wallace: Credit Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin with Surge Among GOP Women

By Maya

Oct 26, 2010 2:57pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports: With the tea party movement headlined by a group of female candidates who have risen to national prominence this election cycle, an odd coupling of 2008 candidates may be the reason why, Republican strategist Nicolle Wallace told us on ABC’s “Top Line” today. “I think you've got to give Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin some of the credit,” said Wallace, who worked for Palin in her vice-presidential run and served as communications director in the George W. Bush White House. “I think despite their unsuccessful outcomes of their candidacies in 2008, they got a whole lot of attention,” said Wallace. “I think that it's encouraging that, despite the fact that a double standard was applied to both women in different ways and at different times, women are still undeterred and they're stepping into the arena in greater numbers.” Wallace is the author of a new novel, “Eighteen Acres,” that focuses on the reelection campaign of the first female president. In the wake of 2008, Wallace has clashed publicly with both Palin and adherents of the tea party movement. She explores similar themes in her novel. “One of the story lines in ‘Eighteen Acres’  is the incumbent president’s surprise pick of an outsider for vice president — comes from Albany, N.Y., she's a statewide official from New York — and it's a topic I felt like I wanted to play with in fiction because I feel like this is what's going on in the country,” Wallace said. “The Tea Party movement is as much about holding Washington … in such low regard that they no longer feel it's important to have experience in politics to do a good job in Washington. They kind of look at Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle and say, 'What are they going to do? Screw it up?' ” The tea party, Wallace said, “is the most simple explanation for the enthusiasm gap,” and Republicans should be thankful for that energy. But its real impact may not be felt until the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination kicks off in earnest. “I think the big question is, what does it look like in 2012? What does Tim Pawlenty do? What does Mitt Romney do?” Wallace said. “I think they become a factor, and I don’t think that the candidate on our side who stands the best chance of winning a national election against President Obama will make the Tea Party the only factor.” Asked what the first female president is doing now, Wallace quipped: “She is at her desk watching ‘Top Line’ right now,” she said. “I mean, I think she's out there. I don't think she knows she's the first female president but I think these things — look, who would've thought … I think our cycles are so accelerated that it's not a matter of generations that have to pass….” “I absolutely think she's out there,” Wallace added. “In all our lifetimes, I think we'll see a couple. The greater fantasy of ‘Eighteen Acres’ is probably that she's a moderate. You know I think we're probably much further away from electing a moderate to national office.” “And you know, she ends up running on a unity ticket. That's something that certainly captured a lot of our imaginations on the McCain campaign. I think we're probably further away, I think because of Obama, because of the hardening of our politics over the past few years. I think those are some of the things that are more farcical and fictional than a woman president.” Also today, we caught up with Jane Sasseen, the editor-in-chief of politics and opinion for Yahoo News, about the new ABC News/Yahoo News that shows optimism in the American system of government at a 36-year low.

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