Question: Will Sarah Palin run for President in 2012?
Matt Taibbi: Absolutely she is going to run for president in 2012 and... I don’t think she is going to win, but I think she is a very good bet to win the nomination. I think what we saw in the last election was the Tea Party is now in this kingmaking role and the Republican Party. I don’t think they can nominate anybody who isn’t acceptable to the Tea Party. That person is just not going to win enough primaries to get through. And Sarah Palin is a candidate who is acceptable to the Tea Party.
She is also—I've seen this personally, I've covered her in person—she is a gifted politician just in terms of getting people to connect with her on an emotional level in person. It’s something that if you’re an experienced campaign journalist you can just see these… You know it’s like watching Michael Jordon in person. You can just see that they have it and she has got it and I think she is going to win the nomination.
Question: What have you seen at Tea Party rallies?
Matt Taibbi: It was really funny. I was in a rally that Sarah Palin was holding in Kentucky and she was doing the whole Ronald Reagan business, you know: "Government is never the answer, government is always the problem, it’s never the solution." And it was a crowd of 10,000 people at a gospel-singing convention, but it was first of all, an entirely white crowd. There wasn’t a single black face there and mostly elderly.
And while she was doing this speech I suddenly looked around and I noticed that like one out of every four people in the crowd was either on an oxygen tank or in one of those scooters, those motorized wheelchairs and I asked the person, one of the reporters next to me what is the deal with the scooters and they’re like there is commercials on TV here, you get... you don’t even have to pay for them because if you have Medicare it’s for free. And so I started interviewing these people afterwards and all these people on scooters they’re all on Medicare and yet they’re railing against government spending and socialism.
And here is the thing with the Tea Party: a lot of these people have this idea of "good welfare" and "bad welfare." Like "bad welfare" is for immigrants and minorities and it’s for people who are lazy and don’t really need it. "Good welfare" is for people who are just temporarily in a jam or who have worked their whole lives and now they’re retired and now they just need a little lift. They just genuinely don’t see the problem with this kind of thinking.
Recorded on November 22, 2010
Interviewed by Andrew Dermont
Directed by Jonathan Fowler
Produced by Elizabeth Rodd