Palin dropped a bombshell on the political world Friday when she announced she's resigning as Alaska's governor in three weeks. She has a year-and-a-half to go in her term.
On "The Early Show Saturday Edition," Rollins, who headed up former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's 2008 White House run, told co-anchor Erica Hill that Palin's Friday news conference "raised a lot more questions than she answered. Usually, at a press conference, you answer questions. I think the bottom line is you saw a shooting star come crashing to Earth.
"I think the premise that she doesn't want to be a lame duck governor - there's people like Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana, (Miss. Gov.) Haley Barbour, Gov. (Tim) Pawlenty, of Minnesota - they're all gonna run for president, and they're finishing their job. The job's very tough now, and for her to bail out at this point in time, I don't think it is fair to Alaskans and certainly, I think, damages her long-term career."
Stepping down hinders a potential 2012 bid, Rollins added, because, "Most political people fight to the end. It's now tough. She didn't finish the job."
Rollins pooh-poohed political pros warning that people shouldn't underestimate Palin's ability to come back from any position of relative obscurity into which she risks falling.
"You have to remember, everybody else climbed the mountain; she got put on top of it by John McCain," he said. "We would not be talking about Sarah Palin if John McCain hadn't picked her (as his running mater).
"So, at the end of the day, she's still gotta earn her stripes."
Rollins also dismissed the notion that Palin could be better off out of office if she starts seeking the White House next time around. "The new (Alaska) governor, the legislature will move right beyond her," Rollins asserted, "and I think, to a certain extent, she certainly will have a voice among conservatives, as a viable, political person who's gonna help the Republican party, (but) I don't think she can do it as effectively if you're not a governor."
What does Palin have to do now to repair any damage caused by her resignation?
"Every step from here on out has to be one that has a strategy to it," Rollins said. "This is tactical. She got up (Friday), went out, surprised the political world - which you shouldn't do - surprised the media world - which you shouldn't do - and at the end of the day, no one knows why. She's gotta go answer all the questions and not run away from them: 'Here's why I did it, it was for my family, it was for this, and for that reason.' But the idea, it's speculation, 'I'm gonna run for president, I can do it more effectively from outside,' is not true."
Rollins contended that, "She diminished the job of governor. I think, at the end of the day, I've been in the business four decades, I've never seen a governor ever walk away from the job at mid-term, and I think, at the end of the day, that's what's gonna affect her."