We think Gov. Palin and her advisors sensed "a great disturbance" in the political force
There's one thing about Sarah Palin that her supporters, critics and even "neutral" pundits all agree on. Her political instincts are remarkably prescient. She has been praised for this keen instinctive ability to read the political tea leaves throughout her entire career. When Gov. Palin announced on October 5 that she had decided not to run for president, she cited family reasons. What this really means is that it was a family decision, but we were left to speculate on what factors were involved in her family's deliberations.
There's no question that a national campaign would be a major disruption of family life for the Palins, and security issues almost certainly were factored into the decision. But political concerns had to have also been involved in what was ultimately a key decision involving the governor's political career. The words "at this time" from her official statement have been cited by some of her supporters as a clue that Sarah Palin, her family and her close advisors saw some new wrinkle in the political landscape that may have caused her to postpone her run, perhaps until 2016 or 2020.
You do not produce quality campaign ads like "One Nation" and "Together" simply to raise money for your leadership PAC or to build your image for public relations purposes. You don't cancel the southern leg of a bus tour that was to have included the early primary state of South Carolina because of family considerations, either. You don't have your lawyers make calls to early primary states to verify presidential filing deadlines unless you are still seriously considering a run. Likewise, you don't convene a round table with your closest advisors to map out strategy for a presidential run, unconventional as it may have been, if your aim is just to string people along.
No, something happened. We think Gov. Palin and her advisors sensed "a great disturbance" in the political force, probably at some point in September, that caused them to put on the brakes. Could it have been that they concluded that the fix is in for Mitt Romney? Consider Stacy McCain's bombshell Thursday that Cesar Conda, Sen. Marco Rubio's top staffer and a Romney loyalist, was instrumental in the Florida GOP's decision to move their state's primary up to January. The earlier states schedule their primaries, the more it helps Romney and hurts other candidates like Herman Cain. This revelation taken together with the GOP establishment's strategy to co-opt Sarah Palin's allies in the TEA Party, make it difficult to believe that such political factors as these were not involved at least to some degree in her decision not to run.
The primary shuffling will throw up obstacles that will be very difficult, if not insurmountable, not only for conservative candidates such as Cain, but also for any other candidate not named Mitt Romney. This had to have been a key factor in the political calculus of Sarah Palin, but don't doubt that it was a consideration for Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani as well. Not just political instincts, but good political intel were likely involved in all three of these decisions not to run. Christie's quick endorsement of Romney so soon after he announced that he would not get into the race indicates that not only did the New Jersey governor realize that the fix for Romney was in, but like any political opportunist, he was determined to use it for his own future political gain.
Unlike Christie, Sarah Palin is not for sale and neither are her core supporters. In his follow-up piece for The American Spectator, Stacy attributes the increase in Cain's poll numbers largely to Palin supporters jumping on board the Cain train following the governor's announcement that she would not run. But if you look carefully at the polling data, it's clear that Cain's rise is almost directly proportional to Rick Perry's decline. What Stacy seems to have missed is the fact that Sarah Palin's strongest supporters are in no hurry to jump to any other candidate's ship. Indeed, her own ship is not sinking. It has only lowered its sails "at this time." Make no mistake: when a favorable breeze is felt, the canvas will again be hoisted. No one GOP presidential candidate even comes close to offering the complete package Gov. Palin's supporters still see in her. A few of her fair weather "fans" may go with the flow (or the media's "flavor of the month"), but her serious supporters know that only dead fish do that, as the governor has often said. No, it will take quite a lot for any other candidate to win the allegiance of the Paliniste. So far, we're not seeing it from any one of them.