Reports: Palin won't announce tomorrow -- but might obliquely criticize Perry

The bad news for Palin fans? If NRO’s Robert Costa and CNN’s Peter Hamby are right, tomorrow’s not “the day.” The good news? Per Hamby, “the day” may still be coming.

The source said Palin is attempting to burnish her image as an outsider and a reformer, reminding the audience of her record in Alaska and specifically highlighting her battles against what she called the state’s corrupt Republican political class that was in cahoots with the oil and gas industry.

Palin plans to unleash a furious criticism of “crony capitalism” and attack the “permanent political class” in both parties: thinly veiled criticisms of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has surged to the top of most polls for the Republican presidential nomination.

Political opponents have long accused Perry, who has held some form of elected office since 1985, of rewarding his allies and campaign donors with plum government posts and contracts.

Though she has no plans to mention Perry or any other Republican presidential hopeful by name, Palin will implicitly contrast herself against the current crop of GOP candidates and further define her brand in case she does decide to run.

Scott Conroy of RCP got a preview of the speech too and also seized on those phrases as veiled digs at Perry. Whether that’s a case of him and Hamby reading things the same way independently or, more significantly, whether their sources inside Palin’s camp are pushing that reading on them, I can’t tell. If she does end up taking a dig at Perry, the only reason to do it is that she’s planning to announce herself in a few weeks. Criticizing him just to criticize him would be unthinkable given the mileage the left will get out of it, but it makes sense if she’s running per her “I’ll jump in if there’s no one else to carry the banner” rationale from months ago. She needs to distinguish herself from Perry somehow in order to justify that logic and this would be one way. (Conroy notes that she’ll also tout her record as governor, another sign that she’s in.) But don’t jump to conclusions: Much depends on how all this is framed in the speech. By “permanent political class,” she may mean the Beltway; and the attack on “crony capitalism” might be aimed explicitly at Obama, with good reason. Who knows? She could throw us a curveball by praising Perry or the other nominees outright in the speech. Or maybe tomorrow’s “the day” after all and the leaks to Costa and Hamby that she’s not announcing are merely a feint designed to throw the media off her trail.

John Fund thinks she’s not running and will probably end up endorsing Perry, but if Hamby and Conroy are right about those veiled digs, that endorsement will be highly nuanced indeed. Via the Right Scoop, here’s her old pal Karl Rove on Fox this morning warning her that she’s doing damage to her prospective candidacy with this endless game of “in or out?”. Is he right? Her core supporters will forgive her anything, but Rasmussen’s latest finds 52 percent of Republicans think it would be bad for the GOP if she jumped in. No doubt Rick Perry agrees. Does Mitt Romney? Click the image to watch.