I haven’t published a post featuring Sarah Palin for months now, and for good reason. It seemed pretty clear that she wasn’t going to run for president and was satisfied with reaping the benefits of being a minor cult figure on the right, and that seemed a good way for everybody to leave things.
However, my assumption may have been incorrect, as both Politico and the New York Times point out this morning. As Politico frames it:
The recent departures of Mitch Daniels and Mike Huckabee from the 2012 GOP field, combined with a flurry of recent moves by Palin—staff changes, the purchase of a home in Arizona, the Iowa premiere of a new feature-length film extolling the former Alaska governor—is rekindling speculation that she sees an opportunity in 2012 and may be thinking more seriously than ever about a presidential run.
John Ziegler, a conservative filmmaker and activist close to Palin, said he believes the ex-governor is closer to a run now than she’s ever been.
The $1.7 million Arizona home is significant, the theory goes, because it gives Palin a base near a major airport in the lower 48 from which to launch a national campaign. In the assessment of the New York Times:
“Taken together, the moves are at odds with conventional wisdom — if not wishful thinking — among establishment Republicans in Washington that Ms. Palin has decided not to run. That thinking has been voiced increasingly as the party’s professional political class, which Ms. Palin has railed against, has sought to declare the field of candidates closed.
Ms. Palin would undoubtedly be able to raise substantial campaign financing and attract constant media attention if she ran. But she is a divisive figure in the party, and would have to overcome what polls have consistently suggested is skepticism and even opposition to her among some fellow Republicans.
Still, supporters of Ms. Palin say that her constituency beyond the Beltway remains eager, and aides and associates have said she is receptive to their calls of “Run, Sarah, run.”
“All indications are that she will be in — her supporters have an intuition about it,” said Jeff Jorgensen, chairman of the Republican Party of Pottawattamie County, Iowa, where Ms. Palin came in second in a straw poll last week. “People are looking for somebody, a Ronald Reagan reincarnate, who does not seem to be out there yet.”
This morning, Gallup also released its latest poll results gauging the thoughts of GOP primary voters. At 15 percent, Palin still ranks second, close behind frontrunner Romney at 17 percent. If she enters the race, she would clearly deny early, live-giving support and attention to candidates such as Cain and Bachmann who appeal to a similar constituency. (Those numbers for Romney are ominous, by the way. He’s the only one in the field who has run a major presidential race before, and given party dynamics, most of the votes for other candidates can probably be read as anti-Romney.)
I continue to hope Palin doesn’t run. It won’t be good for the country, and it won’t be good for the Republican Party. It would probably prove a poor choice for Palin personally as well, but the weakness of the field, the glow of the spotlight and the lure of that big brass ring may indeed prove too much to resist.
– Jay Bookman