Brian Montopoli, CBS News Political Hotsheet blogger, posits that if Sarah Palin intends to make a run for president in 2012, it will likely be the most unconventional campaign in modern political history. Unlike her potential rivals for the GOP nomination, the former Alaska governor does not appear to be lining up big donors or beefing up her inner circle:
This isn't to say the Palin isn't planning a run -- or even, in an unconventional way, positioning herself for one, potentially on the backs of the Tea Party protesters who have been the most energized segment of the American electorate for the past year.We know that Gov. Palin is quietly meeting with local political heavyweights as she makes appearances across the country, as she recently did in Tennessee. As we noted at the time, however, these sort of meetings are the earliest stages of organization-building. And very few of her appearances have been in the key early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire or South Carolina. She seems to be taking the long view, and whether that means a White House run as early as 2012 or that her presidential plans were drawn up with 2016 or 2020 in mind, only she can say, and The Arctic Fox is keeping her cards very close to her vest.
But at this point she has very little institutional support among Republicans, and that may not bode well for a run at the White House. In 2000, John McCain ran for the White House as a GOP outsider and was ultimately defeated by the establishment candidate, George W. Bush. When he decided to run in 2008, McCain determined that he could not win without winning over the establishment -- and he promptly set out to do so.
As the race for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination heats up, keep an eye on Palin to see whether she makes the same calculation.
We can see the signs that Sarah Palin is patiently building bridges to the Republican Party establishment while at the same time strengthening her credibility as an anti-establishment leader. This is a long trek through a political minefield requiring the utmost caution. One wrong move, and everything can be blown away. But if anyone can make it through such a poolitically lethal obstacle course and still be standing on the other side, Sarah Palin can.