Sarah Palin, Rick Perry and More of 2011’s Biggest Political Backstabbers

Political Back Stabbers
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With a year's worth of jabs and parries remaining, this season's political contest has already seen its share of betrayals. A guide to the most significant attacks. * indicates alleged backstabber

Woe is she who double-crosses the king of conservative media. Fox News boss Roger Ailes was reportedly “furious” with the Belle of Alaska for making the final announcement that she wouldn’t run for president not on his channel but on Mark Levin’s talk-radio show. Sarah Palin has a $1 million contract with Fox, and Ailes considered pulling her off the air as punishment.

Roger Ailes Sarah Palin Jason Kempin / Filmmagic (left), Ray Tamarra / Getty Images

There’s no bigger turncoat in this election than the onetime ambassador to China, whose entire campaign is a giant bird-flip to his old boss. Barack Obama appointed Jon Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, to the ambassador post in August 2009. Not two years later, he quit and announced his candidacy for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Barack Obama Jon Huntsman Jim Watson / AFP-Getty Images (left), Adrian Sanchez / AFP-Getty Images

Ed Rollins, the longtime Republican operative, is known for sticking a dart or two into his ex-boss’s back. After ditching Michele Bachmann’s presidential campaign, which Rollins managed, the bearded adviser couldn’t help saying a few bad words about the Minnesota Republican. Rollins taunted that Bachmann had “run out of money and ideas.” “There’s no substance,” Rollins added for good measure.

Ed Rollins Michele Bachmann Stephen Hilger / Getty Images (left), Ethan Miller / Getty Images

When you spend too much time finger-pointing, you can end up poking yourself in the eye. After Politico reported allegations that the former Godfather’s Pizza chief sexually harassed a battery of women during his time at the National Restaurant Association, Herman Cain accused a former consultant to his 2004 Senate campaign—now an adviser to Rick Perry—of leaking. His protestations led two of the women to come forward.

Rick Perry Herman Cain Richard Ellis / Getty Images, Nicholas Kamm / AFP-Getty Images

They may be regretting it now that Newt Gingrich is topping polls while the Texas governor seems to be toast, but back in June, several members of the former House speaker’s staff decamped to join Rick Perry’s campaign. Gingrich’s top aides belly-ached that he wasn’t devoting enough time to his campaign. Who’s laughing now?

Rick Perry Newt Gingrich Jeffrey Ufberg / WireImage (left); Scott Olson / Getty Images

The first black president has taken fire from prominent African-American leaders. Cornel West, the outspoken professor, told an interviewer, “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men.” Tavis Smiley, the talk-show host, has said that Obama “is the first president in my professional career that hasn’t invited me to the White House.”

Cornel West Barack Obama Ben Hider / Getty Images (left); Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images

Poor Tim Pawlenty. The former Minnesota governor retired his campaign early this past summer. Surveying the crop of candidates, Pawlenty decided to endorse fellow blue-state governor Mitt Romney. That was before the campaign morphed into a circus, and Pawlenty admitted that he wished he had stayed in the race. Bet Romney really appreciated that.

Tim Pawlenty Mitt Romeny Richard Ellis / Getty Images (left), Scott Olson / Getty Images

What’s a Harvard Law School graduate to do when the elites turn against him? The Huffington Post boss was caught griping that she would consider voting for a Republican over the president. Larry Summers was quoted saying, “There’s no adult in charge” in Obama’s White House. Think that’s bad? Steve Jobs threatened Obama, “You’re headed for a one-term presidency.”

Arianna Huffington Barack Obama Neilson Barnard / Getty Images (left); Saul Loeb / AFP-Getty Images