MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said on Monday that the split between ex-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Fox News marked a turning point in GOP philosophy — particularly from the man he called the Republican party’s “de facto leader,” Fox News Channel chair Roger Ailes.
“He’s run the party, he’s run the conservative movement,” Scarborough said of Ailes. “And when Roger Ailes decides she’s not worth the trouble, then that means conservatism’s moving in a new direction.”
Recently, the “Morning Joe” host said, he heard more conservative figures echoing an argument he has made since last summer: that Republicans needed to stop being “the stupid party.”
“Finally, there’s an understanding: we’ve gotta grow the party,” Scarborough told his panelists. “What we’ve been saying for, quite frankly, years and getting attacked. ‘We want Colin Powell on our side. We want moderate Republicans on our side.'”
Palin’s contract with the network was not renewed after a three-year stint as a contributor, with Ailes allegedly calling the former governor of Alaska “stupid” in private.
“Are you saying that pushing her out of the spotlight is part of making ‘the stupid party’ less stupid?” co-host Mika Brzezinski asked.
“What I’m saying is that Sarah Palin represented a time and place in American politics,” he said. “And not 2008 so much as 2010. And that time is passing us very quickly.”
“But there’s a difference between, ‘Stop being the stupid party’ and to start being the smart party,'” said panelist and president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass. “We’ll see what happens on gun control. We’ll see what happens on the debt.”
That some Republicans were taking part in a bipartisan immigration proposal that includes a way for undocumented immigrants to eventually gain citizenship, Haass said, was a sign that GOP leaders were willing to come around.
Panelist Willie Geist said that during her prime, conservatives embraced Palin as a symbol of their struggles with what they called unfair treatment by the media.
“She was a great moment for them to fight back,” Geist said. “Now the question is, when you turn the page from her — and she does feel like a relic from a different time — where do you go? What’s the next move? Can they make the leap to [New Jersey Governor] Chris Christie (R)? Is he too moderate, as people said four years ago, or a couple of years ago, even? We’ll see. We’ll see if they’re willing to go that direction. If Mitt Romney, in many ways, and [Sen.] John McCain (R-AZ), in many ways, was too moderate for people during that campaign, will they now change course and swing toward the middle?
Watch Scarborough and his panelists discuss Palin’s legacy, aired Monday, below.