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Here’s why it’s good politics for lesser-known GOP presidential hopefuls to knock Sarah Palin

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Chris Cillizza EXPLAINS the potential political benefits for Rick Santorum and John Thune that could accrue from their recent jabs at Sarah Palin.

An excerpt:

For both Santorum and Thune, going after Palin — whether intentionally, unintentionally or a somewhere in between — is a smart political strategy.

It’s the political equivalent of punching up; anytime a lesser known candidate takes a swing at a better known candidate — and that better known candidate responds — it’s a victory for the little guy.

It’s why long-shot challengers always call for debate against incumbents — and why incumbents almost never agree to them.

But, Palin’s demonstrated willingness to engage almost anyone — literally — who speaks ill of her virtually ensures that other lesser known candidates looking to make a name for themselves in the 2012 field will follow the Santorum/Thune route in the very near future.

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