The online reaction from Sarah Palin supporters late Thursday to criticism by Mitt Romney surrogates was fast, furious, and, like Palin herself, remarkably unorthodox.
The charge from nameless Romney advisers that Palin, the former Republican governor of Alaska, was “not a serious human being” appeared Thursday in an article at Time.com.
Romney, close to noon on Friday, distanced himself from the comments, calling those who criticized Palin “anonymous numbskulls” on his Twitter account.
“She’s proven her smarts; they’ve disproven theirs,” Romney wrote.
But Palin supporters had already unleashed a vigorous counterattack. Hours after the Time article appeared, the Twitter feed for Rebecca Mansour, an adviser to Palin who manages her online presence, came alive.
But then Mansour went in a more postmodern direction, tweeting just one word – “Unserious” – and a link to a YouTube video of former President Ronald Reagan in a 55-second preview for the former Hollywood actor’s 1951 film, “Bedtime for Bonzo.”
The clip shows Reagan with actress Diana Lynn in a clip where she discovers that the “child” he has hired her to help him with is actually a chimpanzee.
“It’s a monkey!” Lynn cries.
“Well sure it’s a monkey!” says a stoic Reagan.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” whines Lynn.
“I did,” Reagan emotes back.
Mansour’s tweet was intended to associate Palin with Reagan. But it did so through an admission that Reagan did some pretty silly things during his acting career. The implication appears to be that Palin should not be called unserious even if she has done or said silly things.
“The Mitt Romney campaign launched a depraved sexist, personal attack on Sarah Palin,” wrote Bruce, an openly gay, pro-choice, pro-gun, pro-death penalty self-identified conservative who was head of the National Organization for Women’s Los Angeles Chapter in the 1990’s.
“If Romney is going to use proxies to attack Sarah Palin, if they’re going to shoot at her, we’ll shoot back,” said Bruce in a radio clip, calling on Republicans to “stop reducing these women to dirty dish rags,” referring to Palin and South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Nikki Haley.
“So from now on if there is silence as the leader of the party, whether you like it or not, continues to be sexualized or diminished, and as these boys sit back with their arms crossed, we’ll make sure people are reminded of the silence,” Bruce said. “People who would presume to be president of the United States, like Romney or Pawlenty or Jindal, you’d better get used to stepping up to the plate because every time you don’t, we’re going to make sure people realize it.”
Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom told The Daily Caller emphatically that the comments about Palin in the Time.com article were not authorized, approved or encouraged by Romney.
“These anonymous voices don’t speak for Governor Romney,” Fehrnstrom said in an e-mail. “The truth is Governor Romney has a small circle of people who advise him, and they all know the high regard that he has for Sarah Palin, and he has expressed that view in numerous interviews over the years.”
Mansour’s Twitter account also linked to a number of conservative blogs that trashed Romney in defense of Palin.
At Conservatives4Palin.com, a site started by Mansour herself before she was hired by Palin, Doug Brady called Romney “a classic finger-to-the-wind politician with no core values.”
“All of these attacks by Romney on Governor Palin are ludicrous and a sure sign of desperation from Team Mitt,” Brady wrote. “Governor Palin has been tirelessly leading the fight against Obama for an entire year while Romney hides in the tall grass doing really important ‘insider stuff’ like sending a front group, Evangelicals For Mitt, to purchase votes in a straw poll, writing a book nobody wants to read, or raising money from millionaire investment bankers at Goldman Sachs.”
At HotAir.com, an anonymous author writing under the name “Doctor Zero” lauded Palin and mocked Romney for the health-care overhaul he implemented as governor of Massachusetts.
“Anybody who can rock a sitting presidential administration with Facebook posts has nothing to prove to the faceless minions of a voiceless bystander to the ObamaCare drama,” the anonymous author wrote.
Palin advisers did not respond to requests for comment.
But Mansour attempted Friday afternoon to create some distance between her Twitter account and Palin.
“Just to clarify things. This is my personal Twitter account. Just mine. These are my personal thoughts. It’s called free speech. Period,” she wrote.