Who won the war of words on competing talk-show appearances? The Daily Beast gives the bottom line on Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney’s big late-night showdown.
Sarah Palin and Mitt Romney, two front-runners for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, went head-to-head on The Tonight Show and Late Show with David Letterman Tuesday night, with anecdotes aimed at three key 2012 demographics: Tea Partiers, young voters, and family-values voters. Who came out on top?
Round One: Tea Partiers
Here Is My Handle…
What’s the key to the 2012 GOP nomination? Gaining favor with the Tea Partiers. Palin—who received the Tea Party’s goodwill by speaking at the recent convention—refused to crown herself queen of the movement, but she did call the loose affiliation of populists, conservatives, and dissidents “beautiful.”
…and Here Is My Spout
While Romney couldn’t quite muster up the linguistic courage to describe Tea Partiers as “beautiful,” he was no less effusive in his praise (and somewhat more articulate in his analysis and support)—despite David Letterman’s clear bafflement at the movement.
Round One Winner: Palin. If she can’t win Tea Partiers, who can?
Round Two: Young People
Palin Catches Flying Tomato
With the GOP hemorrhaging young voters, a key to securing the 2012 nomination will be proving that the candidate can attract the under-30 vote. Palin’s strategy on Leno was to latch on to Olympic sensation Shaun White (perhaps his snowboarding reminds her of home?), but the “thumbs up” gesture may not be “cool” enough for the hipster bloc.
Romney Beats Up Rapper
Mitt Romney’s youth-vote strategy is a little more aggressive: He got into an altercation with a rapper. Romney, who entered into some kind of kerfuffle with Sky Blue of hipster rap group LMFAO on an airplane, turned the scrap into a possible endorsement—Blue now calls Romney his “homeboy,” and Romney says (inexplicably) that he will take Blue as a tax deduction.
Round Two Winner: Romney. LMFAO is much hipper than Shaun White.
Round Three: Family-Values Voters
Palin’s Diverse Family Life
Appealing to the Republican base means, of course, talking up your family values. Palin’s glowing descriptions of her science-teacher father were a good way to start, and she solidified her appeal to the NRA crowd by telling Jay the kind of advice her father gives her—what kind of ammunition to use.
Romney’s Political Father
If it helps to talk about how much your family means to you, it might help more to talk about how much your family has accomplished. Romney’s dad was a successful governor of Michigan—now Mitt just has to convince the public that good governance runs in the Romney genes.
Round Three Winner: Tie. Let’s be honest—their parents must have done a pretty good job for these two to get where they are.
Bonus Tiebreaker Round: Niceties
Romney: “Be Careful” of Palin
Palin didn’t talk about much besides herself on Leno (though she did perform a better-than-expected late-night-style monologue), but Romney was kind (or sly) enough to compliment her on Letterman’s show—but not without a dig at her gun-happy style.
Overall Winner: Mitt Romney. Romney’s easygoing appearance alongside a sympathetic Letterman outshone the overexposed Sarah Palin show on NBC. Now if only he had performed some standup, too.