Monday, July 19, 2010

Sarah Palin's 2012 Ground Game

Just barely a year ago I published "Can Palin Win the 2012 GOP Nomination?" I laid out what I considered the necessary prerequisites for Sarah Palin's emergence as viable, top-tier candidate for the nomination in 2012. The very first comment at the post was offered by the radical progressive LeMonton, who dissed Palin's chances: "dream on dude, dream on."

Actually, no need to dream. A year out from Palin's resignation as Alaska Governor, the former GOP running-mate is looking good for a presidential run of her own next time around. As for my analysis, I'm still leaning on development of the experience thing, especially on foreign policy. Palin still sounds "light" on some issues. But she's unquestionably the finest potential candidate on the issues of greatest concern to the conservative base, and absent some serious gaffes or blunders, she'll be the one in every competitor's cross hairs. I'd add a new recommendation, however: Palin must avoid the Hillary Clinton complex, whereby Ambassador Clinton campaigned as the inevitable nominee throughout 2007 right up to the Iowa caucuses. I can't see who'd be the insurgent to knock Palin out before she captures the crown next time around, but to assume the primaries are basically a formality before coronation could be fatal politically.

It's all looking good, that's for sure. See WSJ, "
Palin's Ground Game Spurs Campaign Buzz":
Through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has burst back into the political spotlight this month, while her family life has once again become part of the broader American conversation.

But it is Ms. Palin's groundwork on behalf of candidates across the country, along with her continued fund-raising abilities, that has Republican leaders and political strategists wondering whether she is gearing up for a presidential bid in 2012.

Ms. Palin's intentions remain unclear, and unstated. She declined to comment through her political-action committee.

But her influence is undeniable: On Sunday, SarahPAC disclosed contributions of at least $87,500 to Republican candidates she has endorsed, and a tantalizing $210,000 she has spent on consultants of her own.

Ms. Palin also appears to have honed her pitch. Last week, SarahPAC posted a "Mama Grizzlies" video online aimed at reaching out to women voters. In the clip, women carried signs such as "I am not the 'Angry Mob.' I am an angry tax-bled 'Hockey Mom.' " Political experts said the video—with its high production values and campaign-like blue hues—was impressive.

She has also been judicious with her political endorsements, for instance backing Nikki Haley for governor in South Carolina despite rumors of scandal surrounding the candidate, and Carly Fiorina for U.S. Senate in California over tea-party favorite Chuck DeVore.

Ms. Palin's backing was seen as important to both candidates' victories—particularly in Ms. Haley's case—bolstering Ms. Palin's political clout and boosting her among women.

"A sign of Palin's political maturity and calculation is that her endorsements have become more strategic than ideological. She's not just picking people who are compatible, she's picking candidates who can win and, therefore, increase her power base," said Mark McKinnon, a former media adviser to President George W. Bush.

Such moves, if not announced as such, appear to be the maneuvers of someone mapping a political future, not a retired governor angling for a media career. Mr. McKinnon, in fact, declared on the Daily Beast website Friday that she is running.