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GOP strategist: 'If Sarah Palin endorsed me I would be too embarrassed to tell anyone'

On Wednesday, California Republican strategist and Yolo County supervisor Matt Rexroad loaded up Facebook and put up a short complaint about U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina's embrace of Sarah Palin.

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The awkward part of this? Rexroad is a managing partner of Meridian Pacific, Inc., a strategy firm hired by... Carly Fiorina. While Rexroad doesn't work on that account, the Fiorina campaign paid Meridian Pacific $31,509.88 for consulting and travel in the first quarter of 2010. Reached by phone, Rexroad stood by the post and stuck up for his colleagues working for Fiorina.

"I hope it's not a big deal!" he laughed. "I support Carly and I'll be voting for her, and I think she's going to win. But from my point of view, I don't know how you quit as the governor of your state and get taken seriously. I have a client this cycle who tells me I should keep this to myself, but it's my opinion. Look at Ross Perot -- he was rock star for a while, and then after a while people said, hey, he's kind of crazy."

Rexroad's somewhat heretical take on Palin gets at the disconnect that a lot of Republican strategists feel between the former governor's political influence and her role as a serious figure. At the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, Palin got, by far, the best reception of any possible 2012 candidate who took the stage. But she came in third in the straw poll, and plenty of Republicans told reporters that they hesitated to back her because they didn't think she could handle the job of president yet.

"It's good politics to stand there with Palin," said Rexroad, "but I think there are a lot of other, more accomplished people who voters should take their views from. John McCain has this enormous record and long career, and he's accomplished so much more than her, if we're looking for people who've endorsed Carly that voters should take their guidance from."

UPDATE: John Peschong, one of the Meridian Pacific consultants working for Fiorina, gives me this comment:

Matt Rexroad is my business partner, but when it comes to Sarah Palin he has no idea what he is talking about and is wrong in his assessment of her and the value she brings to campaigns. I have known Sarah Palin and her family for years in my roles as the Republican National Committee’s Western States Political Director and as Western States Campaign Manager for McCain-Palin and have the highest regard for her. She is a true conservative and great Republican leader who cares deeply about the direction our country is headed. Matt is not in any way involved in Carly Fiorina’s campaign, and even if he was, it is clear that his advice would have gone completely ignored. Carly is honored to have Governor Palin’s endorsement and we look forward to continuing to make sure Republican voters know who she is supporting in this election

By David Weigel  |  May 21, 2010; 1:46 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election , Sarah Palin  
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