The Media Is Rooting for a Palin-Bachmann Rivalry

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What do Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin have in common? They are both hot Republican ladies. And, obviously, that means they are secret catfighting frenemies.

As Bachmann's presidential campaign looks more and more serious--she outraised frontrunner Mitt Romney last quarter--political reporters, who discounted her campaign would be little more than a joke, are starting to take notice. Sadly, they can't help but notice that Bachmann is a woman. Who else is a woman? Sarah Palin. And that just forces them to imply a catfight between the sitting Minnesota congresswoman with the former Alaska governor. Bachmann is beginning to "overshadow" Palin, The Hill's Shane D’Aprile and Jordan Fabian write. Palin "is losing some clout" while Bachmann "is the most obvious choice to supplant Palin in next year’s presidential contest." The Hill continues,

"Those close to Bachmann say she isn’t trying to supercede Palin, with one such source noting the two share 'a friendship and mutual admiration.' But if Palin doesn’t run and Bachmann officially jumps in, the prospect is that Bachmann will drown out the former Alaska governor."

Likewise, The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny was able to goad Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad into fantasizing about a cagematch between the two ladies. “If Congresswoman Bachmann gets in, she has the potential to appeal to a lot of people who might have gone for Governor Palin," Branstad told Zeleny. "Imagine if they both got in. That could make it really interesting." Iowa state senator Kent Sorensen was more explicit, "I don't want to bash Sarah Palin, but she lacks substance... I believe Michele Bachmann has more substance. I think she'd mop the floor with her, if you want me to be frank."

Mother Jones' Suzy Khimm, too, argues that Bachmann might actually be a better candidate than Palin, with more organizing experience and a thicker skin. Andrew Sullivan selected this as his Monday quote of the day: "If Bachmann and Palin BOTH get into the race this will be the most entertaining GOP primary in history! They could put the debates on Pay-Per-View and have enough to finance the ENTIRE Republican campaign."

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The media's lust for a catfight between these two women calls to mind the similarly not-quite-real tiff between Tina Brown and Arianna Huffington. Brown can't even praise Huffington without a reporter reading a catfight between the lines. Though there are certainly better media candidates for the catfight rumors--like, say, The New York Times' Magazine's Huge Lindgren raiding a good chunk New York's Adam Moss' staff--it's the two people with boobs who are stuck with the belittling label. Who in the GOP 2012 field really hate each other? Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. But don't expect a lot of lusting for a celebrity deathmatch between those two.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.