With the GOP 2012 pack losing several big names following no-go announcements for Mitch Daniels, Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took a bold step toward a possible presidential bid this week.
Palin has sent out some 400,000 direct-mail fundraising letters targeting voters in several early primary states – a move sure to get pundits’ tongues wagging. Also, on Sunday news broke that she may have purchased a home in Arizona, which could provide her a “Lower 48” base not only for a presidential bid but also a possible Senate campaign in 2012, both Fox News and the Arizona Republic reported.
Confirmation of a Palin house purchase in Scottsdale likely would rekindle chatter about whether Palin might run a political campaign out of Arizona, the home state of U.S. Sen. John McCain, who plucked her from relative political obscurity in 2008 to be his vice-presidential running mate, the Republic speculated Sunday.
Palin has been rumored to be considering headquartering her 2012 White House campaign, if there is one, in Scottsdale. She also has been mentioned as a possible candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.
Just last month, Palin launched a new website for her PAC with significantly ramped-up content and features, including the ability to capture email and other information so useful in political fundraising.
A new Suffolk University poll conducted after Trump and Huckabee withdrew indicates Palin would be a strong contender if she decides to run. Romney was the No. 1 choice of Republican primary voters, with 20 percent. But Palin placed second at 12 percent. That compares to just 4 percent each for Rep. Michele Bachman and talk host and businessman Herman Cain.
Despite Palin’s high negatives among some voter demographics, analysts recognize her ongoing ability to wield power and influence with the GOP faithful.
Longtime GOP political strategist Roger Stone tells Newsmax that a Palin candidacy would immediately alter the dynamics of the race.
“I don’t think she’s going to run, but I think it would be a mistake to underestimate her potential to really change the race,” he says. “I think she could galvanize conservatives and suck-up a lot of oxygen on the right as an alternative to [former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt] Romney, who’s acting more and more like the establishment candidate every day.”
Democratic pollster and Fox News commentator Doug Schoen appears to concur that Palin remains a force to be reckoned with.
““She has followers and a base,” Schoen observes. “What she needs now is a compelling message why she should be president. It remains to be seen if she can really do it.”
In an appearance Wednesday on Fox News’ Hannity program, Palin said she is still weighing her options and considering whether she’s willing to put her family through the media scrutiny that another national run would inevitably entail.
“We’re still talking about it, and assessing … looking for others who are ready to go rogue and fight against the machine on both sides of the aisle in order to get the economy back on the right track and do the things that the private sector needs done to implement some solutions to all the problems that America’s facing right now,” Palin said.
What would it take to draw her into the race? Palin emphasized how important it is for the GOP to nominate the right candidate, telling host Sean Hannity: “I want to make sure that we have a candidate out there with tea party principles, understanding that we’re taxed enough already. Our job creators cannot afford to be taxed anymore.”
The former Alaskan governor’s fund-raising move comes on the heels of Mitt Romney’s impressive, $10 million fundraising feat in Nevada, an important state for Republicans hoping to reclaim the White House.
It also comes one day after Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., announced she may be lacing up her 2012 running shoes this month rather than her initial target of June. Palin made several high-profile Fox News appearances on Wednesday as well.
Because of the extraordinary appeal both Palin and Bachmann enjoy with grass-roots conservatives, some analysts have speculated that if one announces it could preclude the other from running. But Bachmann told Fox News on Tuesday that she will make her own decision, independently of whether the former Alaska governor opts to run.
Palin is a paid contributor for Fox News. Like Huckabee, she will eventually have to decide whether she wants to work for Fox, or run for office.
If a candidate continues to make on-air appearances while appearing as a host or pundit, a network risks running afoul of the FCC’s equal time provisions.
Fox recently terminated the contracts of GOP presidential hopefuls Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
In her letter to potential donors -- logoed “From the Desk of Gov. Sarah Palin” -- the author, TV personality, and former vice-presidential candidate gives no hint she covets the highest office in the land. But she offers vintage Palin commentary that is sure to play well in Peoria (or more to the point, Des Moines).
“The White House and Congress heard loud-and-clear that Americans don’t want cradle-to-grave government control of our lives,” she writes.
“We don’t want government bureaucrats deciding what kind of light bulb we should use, what kind of cars we should drive, and which doctors can and can’t care for us and our families.
“And we don’t want our president continuing to manipulate the U.S. energy supply. What we want are the freedom and opportunities to make a better life for ourselves in the most exceptional nation on earth.
“I’ll be supporting commonsense conservative candidates in crucial off-year elections and doing all that I can to ramp up our preparations for 2012,” she continues. “And I promise to join you in holding new members of Congress accountable to ensure that they live up to their campaign promises to rein in out-of-control government spending and to repeal and replace the massive, burdensome and unwanted Obamacare bill.”
Palin’s popularity remains strong with social conservatives, the very bloc of voters that had lined up behind the now-absent Huckabee.
The massive mailing by Palin, at the very least, will show whether she can use the vacuum generated by Huckabee’s exit to raise a blizzard of bucks on behalf of conservatives.
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