Former aide faults Sarah Palin for the rise of Donald Trump: "We all should have seen this coming"

Nicole Wallace admits in NYT op-ed that "the party bears some responsibility for her success" and Trump's rise

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published January 26, 2016 5:41PM (EST)

Sarah Palin                        (AP/Cliff Owen)
Sarah Palin (AP/Cliff Owen)

Former senior adviser to the McCain/Palin campaign Nicole Wallace took to the New York Times today to proclaim a small level of moral culpability for the rise of rabid right-wing anger that was unleashed into the Republican party by Sarah Palin that has now been mainstreamed by former "Celebrity Apprentice" host and Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

"We all should have seen this coming," Wallace writes in the op-ed, reminiscing back to the palpable anger Palin drew from supporters during campaign stops during the 2008 election. Chiefly, the moment when John McCain was forced to correct a birther who insisted Barack Obama was an "Arab" -- a moment Wallace contends "was also an early warning that the Republican base was profoundly agitated."

"Her legacy lies in her innate ability to wrap herself in the anger that those voters felt," Wallace says of Palin, conceding that "the growing furor in the Republican Party was something that we, as a campaign, failed to address."

"The party bears some responsibility for her success," the MSNBC analyst admitted:

Ms. Palin owned the resentment voters in the Republican Party. They became her cause. And when the campaign concluded, she became the poster politician for the Tea Party movement. She was its first star, and hers became a coveted endorsement.


Our base has grown increasingly exasperated with Washington Republicans who, despite historic victories in the midterm elections of 2010 and 2014, seem incapable of reversing President Obama’s legislative agenda or asserting themselves in the country’s foreign policy debates.

"Trump has made a shrewd bet," Wallace said of Palin's recent endorsement of the billionaire mogul. "Trump’s bet: When the politician most fluent in American rage roars, the movement she gave voice to in the fall of 2008 will roar back today":

Mr. Trump is riding the wave of anxiety that Ms. Palin first gave voice to as Senator John McCain’s running mate. Mr. Trump has now usurped and vastly expanded upon Ms. Palin’s constituency, but the connection between the two movements is undeniable.

Read Wallace's full op-ed here.

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By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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