It was probably going to happen anyway, but Sarah Palin just gave a healthy push to the drive to find a Republican alternative to Senators who support the immigration reform bill.
Conservatives are getting ready for the 2014 and 2016 primaries. We have long memories, and there will be consequences for those who break campaign promises and vote for this amnesty bill," Palin told Breitbart News. "Competition makes everyone work harder, be better, and be held accountable. This applies to politics, too. No one is 'entitled' to anything."
She continued, "Rigorous debate in competitive primaries allows candidates the opportunity to explain their flip-flops. So think of contested primaries as a win-win for politicians and their voters."
Palin responded to Breitbart News's request for comment about an interview she did earlier on Tuesday with John Gibson on Fox News radio in which she said Rubio and Ayotte "turned their back" on voters and should be primaried to be held accountable. Rubio and Ayotte will be up for reelection in 2016.
"Every politician should be held accountable for breaking their campaign promises," Palin said during an interview on the "John Gibson Radio Show" on Fox News radio. "They turned their back on the American public, so why should they not be held accountable?"
Palin said Rubio had promised that "border security would come first," and he would not support "legalization of illegal immigrants" and "amnesty" before border security while running in the Florida Republican Senate primary against Charlie Crist in 2010. She said Ayotte, whom she endorsed, had on her campaign website in 2010 that there were "no excuses" not to secure the border and also said she would not support amnesty.
"I think that they should be challenged. I don't have a problem with heated debates and contested primaries where they have to answer to constituents regarding their flip-flopping on such a fundamental position as amnesty for illegal immigrants," she told Gibson. "I don't have a problem at all with contested primaries. In fact, competition makes us all better and makes us be held accountable and I'd like to see them held accountable and answer as to why it is that they flip-flopped."
Palin also told Gibson that she had said "nice things" about Rubio before he "reneged on his promise" on the bill because she thought he was "an honest politician." She remarked, "honest politician" is too often an oxymoron.
Those are very tough words from Palin, who cheered both Rubio's and Ayotte's elections. And as far as her influence goes, her words will carry a lot of weight with political activists.
But with the rest of GOP primary voters, not so much. While the activists are going to be livid with both Senators, it's problematic whether they can stop either candidate. Rubio isn't a Lugar who had many things working against him in Indiana. And Ayotte hails from a state a little more friendly to moderate conservatives.
Still, don't bet against Palin's ability to stir her supporters into action. If I were Rubio or Ayotte, I'd be worried.