Everyone’s favorite foreign policy expert, Sarah Palin, is finally showing some movement towards making a bid for the Republican presidential nomination. She has bought a large house in Arizona, apparently forsaking her home state of Alaska as insufficiently mainstream as a base from which to mount a presidential bid. And, she has launched a bus tour of the northeast United States.
Most importantly, perhaps, however, is the fact that Palin began her bus tour by popping in on a motorcycle gathering; and hitching a ride on a Harley-Davidson from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial over the Memorial Day weekend. The motorcycle gig made a great deal more sense than launching her “One Nation Tour” in Washington — Ground Zero for the massive federal bureaucracy that is strangling America’s economy and its future.
It has been widely speculated the former vice-presidential nominee and reality TV star would join the lackluster 2012 Republican field. While she coyly will not directly answer when asked about a presidential run, Palin has admitted she has “the fire in [her] belly” to make another bid for national public office.
Though often criticized for her lack of depth on major national and international issues, Palin certainly comprehends that many voters are unhappy with the current Republican field; a team that does not yet count among its members a candidate who can deliver anything approaching a consensus able to unite the GOP.
The presumed frontrunner – at least for the moment – is Mitt Romney, who carries heavy baggage in a prospective bid again President Barack Obama. His heaviest baggage is the big government health care plan he championed and signed into law in 2006 while serving as Governor of Massachusetts. Many Republicans note the similarities between RomneyCare and ObamaCare; a factor they believe would be fatal to the GOP in a Romney-Obama match up.
Other candidates, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, have been unable to garner widespread support. Gingrich, of course, made a colossal error during his first weekend in the race by criticizing the budget blueprint produced by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).
Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is also running this time around. While polls show he has attracted more support than his previous bid in 2008, he still lags greatly in the support needed to capture the nomination. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who like Paul appeals to libertarian-oriented voters truly concerned about individual and economic liberty, remains almost uniformly unknown outside libertarian circles.
And there is Herman Cain, a businessman and talk show host from Atlanta, who the national media studiously ignores. Cain attracted a number of supporters after the first Republican debate in early May. However, Cain has shown a lack of knowledge on foreign policy and related civil liberty issues in recent interviews.
Polls show that as many as a quarter of Republicans are undecided, and that those who have stated support for a particular candidate are not firmly committed. Could Palin be the candidate who attracts enough support to win the nomination and go on to beat Obama? It’s unlikely. While Obama is far from safe, he has the benefit of being more popular with the electorate at large than Palin, who failed to complete her only term as Governor of Alaska.
But given all the publicity Palin has attracted with her bus tour, beginning with her ride as a passenger on a Harley-Davidson, she is teaching the candidates in the Republican field a thing or two about creating a buzz. Perhaps some of her erstwhile GOP colleagues can learn from the Alaskan-turned-Arizonan. What might we see next? Newt on a Harley hog? Many voters would pay to see that; but it looks as if Palin may have already sewed up the Harley-Davidson vote.
By Bob Barr — The Barr Code