Bristol Palin and Levi Johnston have decided against becoming married teenage parents, which is fine for them, but what does this do for Bristol’s mom, Governor Sarah Palin’s hopes of becoming the darling of the social conservatives and the potential presidential nominee of the GOP in 2012?
Before the news of the breakup that they tried to keep a secret for the last two and a half month hit the news, Palin’s PAC sent out a fundraising email that touted her work with faith based initiatives in Alaska, which said in part, “Recently, Governor Palin was joined by Franklin Graham as she traveled to Western Alaska. Together, Governor Palin and Mr. Graham toured the region and met with residents of the area. Many of these Alaskans have recently received additional assistance through a partnership between many state agencies and several faith-based, non-profit groups, such as Mr. Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse.”
So on the same day that Palin begins her campaign to court social conservatives, it is revealed that her daughter is an unwed teenage mother, and that the family has been lying to media about her marriage plans for a couple of months now. Last month on Fox News, Bristol Palin was talking about a summer wedding, and today we found out that this was all a lie, likely designed to keep up her mother’s political image. I know that the social conservatives see something romantic in teenage marriages, but in my opinion the teenagers probably made the correct decision for them. I can’t image the pressure that they must have felt to get married last year, because Gov. Palin was running for vice president.
In political terms, the news definitely is a hit to the image that Palin is trying to cultivate for 2012. She sees that her path to the GOP nomination runs through the social conservative wing of the party. Mitt Romney has long been the choice of the fiscal conservatives, so Palin is left to duke it out with Mike Huckabee for the hearts of the social conservatives. I can’t see how having an unmarried teenage mother for a daughter will help her with the values voters who like to believe that teaching abstinence can prevent teenage pregnancy, but Palin, like George W. Bush before her, knows how to turn on the charm and speak their language.
Huckabee is the more authentic social conservative, but Palin has personality and charisma working for her. While I, as a non values voter, have no problem with the way Bristol Palin chooses to live her life, I can see where Palin’s family situation could undermine her credibility with some GOP primary voters. I find it more offensive that Palin tried to lie to the world in order to keep her political image intact. The bigger political problem for Palin might be that the only base within the GOP that she might be able to count on is Republican women. It will be difficult for Palin to make the family values argument in 2012, but no one should be surprised if she tries.