UPDATE: Ding, ding. Round 3.
Karl Rove shot back at Sarah Palin Wednesday night, telling Fox News that the former Alaska governor needs to get a "thicker skin" regarding speculation about her potential presidential campaign.
"I'm mystified. Look, she is all upset about this, saying I’m somehow trying to sabotage her in some way," Rove said, referring to Palin’s reaction to his prediction she’ll jump into the race by Labor Day. "Look, if she doesn’t want to be speculated about as a prospective presidential candidate there’s an easy way to end [the] speculation – simply say, 'I’m not running.'"
Rove stressed that he has no inside information regarding Palin’s intentions to join the race but repeated his belief that her current schedule looks a whole lot like the start of a campaign. "If she’s not interested in being a candidate, why does she keep going back to Iowa?" he said.
Here are Rove’s two "thin-skinned" pull quotes:
1) "It is a sign of enormous thin skin that if we speculate about her she gets upset and I suspect if we didn't speculate about her she'd be upset and try and find a way to get us to speculate about her."
2) "If she doesn't want to be speculated about, then end the speculation by saying, 'I'm not going to be a candidate.' Until then, I would just recommend she might get a slightly thicker skin because if she's got this thin a skin now, when people are saying, 'Well, she might be a candidate' … how is she going to react if she does get into the campaign and gets the scrutiny that every presidential candidate does get? I mean, that's not going to be a pretty sight if she's as thin-skinned in the fray and she is on the edges of it."
Watch the segment below:
UPDATE Tuesday at 11:39 a.m.: Sarah Palin has made it clear (yet again) that she'll decide whether she's entering the 2012 when she is good and ready to end the speculation, and not a moment sooner.
A post on her political action committee Tuesday denied Karl Rove's prediction that she would jump into the race before a de facto Sept. 3 deadline. "Any professional pundit claiming to have 'inside information' regarding Governor Palin's personal decision is not only wrong but their comments are specifically intended to mislead the American public," the unsigned post reads.
While the short message does not mention Rove by name, it's clear that he's the target. As you should be able to guess by now, the message doesn't say when Palin will officially decide whether to launch a campaign. It does, however, applaud CNN for "setting the record straight" for running an article that quotes her as saying she doubts she'll make a decision before Labor Day.
Here's the full SarahPAC message:
Three years ago DC pundits predicted with glee the demise of Sarah Palin's political career. This past weekend their tune changed, citing false information that she has made a decision and set a date regarding a future campaign. Any professional pundit claiming to have "inside information" regarding Governor Palin's personal decision is not only wrong but their comments are specifically intended to mislead the American public. These are the same tired establishment political games that fuel the 24 hour news cycle and that all Americans will hopefully reject in 2012, and this is more of the "politics-as-usual" that Sarah Palin has fought against throughout her career.
POSTED Saturday, Aug. 20, at 1:48 p.m.: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin may be planning more than just a career in reality television and paid speaking engagements after all.
Conservative talking head and former Bush adviser Karl Rove tells the Washington Examiner that Palin’s scheduled appearance at the Tea Party’s “Restoring America” event on Sept. 3 offers a last late-in-the-game option for her to enter the GOP field of presidential candidates in 2012. He thinks it’s an option she’ll take.
“This is her last chance,” Rove told the Examiner. “She either gets in or gets out [after the Iowa visit]. I think she gets in.”
The Tea Party gathering, recently moved from Waukee to a larger venue in Indianola, would give the former governor and vice-presidential candidate the chance to deliver the news to a large crowd of supporters and media.
One hint about the likelihood of Palin’s long-speculated candidacy is the latest campaign-style video from SarahPac, produced at the Iowa State Fair and titled "Iowa Passion." The video features everything from Palin in a ponytail and sunglasses, talking about fried butter, to commentary from Fox’s Sean Hannity and CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“Doggonit, there is no faith given to the American people, to our small businesses,” Palin tells Hannity and a fair crowd in the video. “No understanding that you all know better how to spend your own money than politicians in Washington, D.C.”
The video closes with a grizzly bear roaring, and the words “Thank you, Iowa! See you again September 3rd."
Considering the fundraising efforts already begun by other GOP candidates, conventional knowledge would suggest Palin needs to start assembling an organization quickly if she wants to back up a big media personality with the coffers necessary to be competitive. But she may have an unorthodox plan.
"I don't think she thinks the rules apply to her," Rove told the Examiner. "She doesn't need to have the traditional trappings of a presidential campaign. No finance committee, she can raise the money."
Though she stole some of the limelight from other candidates with her Iowa State Fair visit ahead of the Iowa straw poll, the former governor would be entering a field with other established conservatives looking to court the same group of supporters. Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann have been seen as similar candidates. Former chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney presidential campaign Matthew Dowd told ABC News:
“I don't think there's room in the race for both of them, and right now Michele Bachmann seems to be acting more like a candidate and Sarah Palin seems to be acting more like a celebrity.”