Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Schmidt: Can Sarah Palin shake up the GOP?

GOP candidates are looking over their shoulders "to see if Hurricane Sarah might strike!"
So her name won't be on the Ames Straw Poll ballot. Sarah Palin nevertheless can still shake up the GOP in Iowa, according to this commentary by Iowa State University political science professor Steffen Schmidt:
The news media have largely neglected Palin because she has not bought space and asked to be on the Iowa (Ames) GOP Straw Poll in August. She has also not officially declared that she will run for President. However, she has been touring the country, giving major interviews to magazines, and hoarding a very nice stack of cash from her various enterprises, which include books, TV specials, speeches and her work for Fox.

In Newsweek, Peter J. Boyer features her in a very flattering article that was published July 18. The cover of the magazine reads "I can win" and features a posed and very glamorous-looking Palin with the headline, "Sarah Palin on why she's confident — and how she'll decide whether to run in 2012."

When I talked to GOP contacts and friends, the opinion was pretty consistently this. Palin is a big "silent" factor in the 2011 Iowa events (debates and Ames straw poll) and will lurk in the background until caucus night is over in 2012. She may even skip the caucuses and decide to jump in at the last moment. However, in primaries there are ballot printing and candidate filing deadlines, so she cannot wait too long.

One acquaintance, a lifelong Republican, said, "Steffen, she's like the severe storms center hurricane forecast for the season. When they say this year will be an exceptionally active hurricane season, everyone from the Gulf States to Maine is jumpy, looking over their shoulder, getting plywood ready to board up, getting hurricane supplies, arranging to have their boat hauled out should a big one hit. All of the Republican candidates right now are looking over their shoulder to see if Hurricane Sarah might strike!"

I thought that was a sweet metaphor.

The end of July is a significant time for Sarah Palin's legion of dedicated supporters (Are there any other kind?). As Daniel Morgan reminds us, not only is it the second anniversary of Gov. Palin's political liberation by virtue of her resignation as Alaska governor, but it also closes the window on the period when nuisance lawsuits can be filed against her for her time in that office.In addition, it should also mark the fulfillment of her obligation to the jury pool. Sarah Palin is free to spread her wings and fly. And everyone will be watching where she chooses to go.

- JP

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