Politics

Tea Party split on who best to challenge Obama in 2012, but Palin fans abound

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

Scott Brown is intriguing, yet it’s too early to know if he’s really a true conservative. Mitt and Huck? They’re better than Obama, the attendees said.

Among the faithful here at the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, there’s no consensus on who would best challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

But there is one candidate that is about universally loved by all those polled: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

When Palin gives the convention’s keynote speech on Saturday, she will certainly be in friendly territory. Tania Ashe of Orlando showed up to convention with several giant cardboard photos of the former vice presidential candidate. Ashe said that Tea Party activists “will support the conservative” and that would be Palin in 2012 if she decides to run.

O.P. Ditch, a retired colonel in the Air Force and founder of a Veterans for Palin group, said he wants Palin in the White House because “she’s one of us.” Wearing a button and a hat that read “Vets4Sarah.net,” Ditch said Tea Party activists will turn to Palin because, “It’s like she could live next door,” and,  “When she talks, she talks like me.”

“I don’t see anyone else who’s even interested in Tea Parties,” he said.

While just about every activist questioned on their 2012 favorite mentioned Palin, not all said she’s definitely their top pick.

Pat Hester of LaGrange, Ga., who with a small group of friends founded LaGrange Patriots, said she admires Palin, but isn’t sure “if she’s ready to be president.” Others echoed Hester, saying it’s just too early to know whether Palin will run.

Fred Everett of Marietta, Ga., said if he could pick his ideal candidate, he’d put Dick Cheney in the White House, though admitted the “liberal media” would never let that happen. He said when Cheney’s interviewed, unlike other politicians, he gives straightforward questions and doesn’t spew spin.

Another ideal president, Everett said, would be Newt Gingrich. When asked,  Everett dismissed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, seen as a natural front-runner for the Republican nomination, due to his support for the Massachusetts health-care plan that Everett likened to Obama’s.

One couple from Tennessee said former Sen. Fred Thompson would be there ideal pick and that they’d consider Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, though they’re turned off by his stance on immigration.

And even though Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown was only sworn into the Senate Thursday, one attendee said: “He’s good enough.” Donna Henton from Nebraska said it’s too early to know who she’d support, but Brown is worth consideration.

“He’s new and refreshing and hopefully a real conservative,” she said.

One Tea Party participant, the “Scottish Patriot”

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