“Sarah Palin’s advisers have long suggested that the former Alaska governor can afford to wait longer than other potential presidential candidates to enter the 2012 Republican primary race – possibly as late as the fall – thanks to her star power and built-in following among some grassroots conservatives…

“‘History would suggest that’s a very risky strategy related to the Iowa caucuses,’ Iowa GOP chairman Matthew Strawn said during a sit-down with reporters at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. ‘The one thing that Iowans don’t want to be is taken for granted.’…

“‘There is an expectation that you’re going to get the opportunity to ask these candidates the tough questions, face-to-face, whether it’s in a town hall or a coffee shop or at our farm co-ops,’ Strawn said. ‘I don’t see that changing this cycle. If you want the votes of the Iowa caucus goers, you need to be in Iowa asking for then and giving Iowans the opportunity to ask you the tough questions.'”

***
“In August, the Fix wrote that former Alaska governor Sarah Palin had almost no presidential ground operation in the first-in-the-nation state. Six months later, as the presidential race begins in earnest, that’s still true. She’s held a few high-profile events in the state, but she hasn’t had the one-on-one meetings with activists that other potential presidential contenders are lining up. She’s avoided speaking invitations…

“‘Unless Sarah Palin begins reaching out to Iowa operatives and activists soon, she runs the risk of digging herself a hole that even her celebrity won’t pull her out of,’ Tim Albrecht, communications director for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), told The Fix…

“One possible takeaway from Palin’s weak Iowa operation is that she isn’t running for president. ‘At this point, I believe her inaction here signals an unwillingness to run,’ Albrecht said. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who is openly ambivalent about a presidential run, is also lagging on groundwork in the state. Huckabee, however, has plenty of contacts in Iowa from his 2008 run, and many caucus-goers got to know him in that cycle.”

***
“The one thing for all the Palin supporters to remember is that, if she can’t make it in Iowa, she is not going to make it anywhere else. Iowa is ideal for a Palin candidacy, but thus far, she seems to be afraid of the process here. Besides a few book signings, Palin has done nothing in the state but hang out in the Savory Hotel in downtown Des Moines for an entire day before speaking at the Republican Party of Iowa fundraiser.

“The Sarah Palin fan club needs to realize that it takes more to run for president than just posting things or endorsing candidates via Facebook. If she is considering running for President, she has a ton of work to do in a state like Iowa. At her current rate, she’s going to make Fred Thompson’s 2008 Iowa campaign look like a well-oiled machine.

“I’ll get serious about a Sarah Palin presidential run when she gets serious about Iowa.”

***
“McClatchy Newspapers spoke to 30 activists around the state at four separate sessions last week. Each discussion lasted at least an hour.

“At each, the mood was the same – Republicans most want someone who can beat President Barack Obama. They don’t know who that is yet…

“What no one wants is a candidate perceived as too radical, or plagued by a controversial past, or one who could have trouble wooing the independents and conservative Democrats whose support will be necessary to win in November 2012…

“Palin’s name was rarely mentioned; most here don’t expect her to run.”