Rumor of the day: Palin to announce she’s running for president in Alaska … on September 11? Update: "Ridiculous"

The answer’s almost certainly no, as she surely knows how it would play for any candidate to coopt 9/11 for something as self-aggrandizing as a campaign launch. (Even Giuliani waited until February 2007 to declare.) As much grief as Beck got for holding his rally on the anniversary of MLK’s speech, she’d get a thousand times more, which is the wrong foot to start on for a candidate who needs to rehabilitate her polling among centrists. Besides, as I’ve said before, she’s the one person in the field who can afford to jump into the race late. This would make her the first one into the pool, even before sure-to-declares like Romney. So yeah, this is almost definitely just fun, idle, too-good-to-check speculation.

I say “almost,” though, because something involving Palin is happening in Alaska on September 11 and it’s significant enough to have Glenn Beck in attendance. From today’s new Vanity Fair hit piece (which is already being challenged for accuracy by even left-leaning journos like Ben Smith and John Dickerson), a tantalizing detail:

Moore, a green-eyed blonde who, like Palin, was once an Alaska beauty queen, albeit a few stripes more self-aware, drives her Subaru through downtown Anchorage, steering with one hand, holding a cigarette and her smartphone in the other. When Devon calls to tell her that Glenn Beck has booked the Dena’ina Center, the largest venue in Anchorage, for a speech on September 11, 2010, she sits bolt upright and yells. Immediately, they start trying to figure out what the news might mean. “Listen, listen, listen: Why in the world do you imagine Glenn Beck would come to Anchorage on 9/11? You think he might have a special guest? With a special announcement? Oh,” she says, her whole face falling as the implications of a Palin campaign kickoff hit her, “Jesus Christ.”

Just another embellishment in Vanity Fair’s piece, perhaps? Not quite. Via the Right Scoop, below you’ll find Beck himself on this morning’s show confirming his trip to Alaska and the fact that he and Palin will both be at the event (“a week from Saturday,” a.k.a. September 11). Note how theatrically coy he is about what’s going on: All he says is that they’ll both be speaking, and when asked if it’s political, he (twice) refuses to answer. Presumably they’re going to announce some sort of joint lecture tour or whatever and this is just Beck’s way of teasing the audience by vaguely hinting that it’s something more, but the location, the size of the venue, and the secrecy around it are curious. (For what it’s worth, Beck claimed as recently as three days ago that he won’t run for anything and has no idea what Palin’s doing.) Remember too that it was only yesterday we learned she’ll be in Iowa later this month for her first big speaking engagement — and according to the Des Moines Register, it was her team who approached the Iowa GOP about making that happen, not vice versa. Quote:

Palin began taking a more active approach toward Iowa in late July, when her political action committee told Iowa Republican Party staff that Palin’s people were planning a more aggressive fall campaign schedule and had asked whether the Reagan invitation was still open.

Iowa is actually the biggest reason why she might want to declare early rather than late. As Mark Halperin notes, “caucus goers expect (read: ‘demand’) to see potential candidates early and often,” which helps explain why she hasn’t polled well in the state thus far. But of course, she could let them see her early and often without announcing any sort of candidacy; just book a bunch of speeches and put in some face time.

Exit question one: What’s this really about? Some sort of “honoring the victims of 9/11” memorial event, maybe? If so, why hold it in Anchorage instead of New York or D.C.? Exit question two: What happens to the rest of the field if she jumps in now? Do Romney, Huckabee, Gingrich, etc, then have to declare soon too or should they wait a few months for the Palin buzz to dissipate a bit before making a move this winter? Romney can get away with losing Iowa since he’s the presumptive heavy favorite in New Hampshire, but the rest of the field can’t afford to let anyone build up too much steam there. Hmmm.

Update: Rebecca Mansour of SarahPAC e-mails to say that the rumor that she’ll announce on 9/11 is “ridiculous” and to point out that Palin had a longstanding open invite from the Iowa GOP to come speak. She finally took them up on it this week.

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David Strom 9:21 PM on March 24, 2023