Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) might do more than attend the premiere of “The Undefeated” when she’s in Iowa, but what that “more” might be is not apparent. Her “One Nation” bus tour might have turned out to be no more than she said it would be — a message-broadcasting mechanism, not to mention a rollicking time for reporters — but some say she’s shown stirrings of a slightly more political nature lately, in connection with the release of a documentary all about her (somewhat as AP predicted). Maggie Haberman of Politico, for example, reported this morning:
Sarah Palin’s camp is reaching out to activists and operatives in Iowa about setting up meetings while she’s in the state Tuesday for the screening of a documentary about her – including with Chuck Laudner, a former Iowa GOP executive director and prominent conservative. …
“I’d be interested to see if she’s serious about a run,” [Laudner] said. “That’d be (question) A, and B, would it be too late. That’s what it feels like, anyway. It’s not too late now, (but if you) dance around until fall” it will be. …
The meetings are a sign of actual political activity on Palin’s part – as opposed to her bus tour, which was opaque in purpose – that happens to fall as Bachmann is rising in the standings.
But RealClearPolitics then reported Politico had the story wrong:
Politico reported on Monday that Palin aides were reaching out to Iowa operatives and activists to set up meetings during her visit, citing Chuck Laudner, a former Iowa GOP executive director. But Laudner told RCP that he did not have a private meeting scheduled with Palin and that no one who works for the former governor had made contact with him.
Laudner said that he received an invitation to attend the festivities surrounding the movie premiere from Peter Singleton, a California native who moved to Iowa several months ago to help organize in the state in advance of a possible Palin presidential run. Singleton is acting on his own and is not a Palin aide but has often been confused for one as he has made his presence known across the state.
“Putting me on this list doesn’t really mean much to me,” Laudner told RCP. “I’m on a list to go to this event, but I didn’t expect there was going to be high drama. . . . He just said be there, and I said OK.”
For his part, Singleton confirmed to RCP that he has not been working with the Palin camp.
Politico ultimately clarified the original post, saying Palin’s aides had never reached out to Laudner for a one-on-one: The call from Palin’s camp to the Iowa conservative was actually about a post-premiere meet-and-greet.
All the conflicting “facts” demonstrate just how adept Palin is at procuring hype — even when that’s not her intention at all. Should the ongoing attention convince her she’d like to join the race, it’s certainly not too late (although also not so early, either). A recent poll in Iowa shows few likely caucus-goers in that important primary state have definitively selected a candidate to support — just 14 percent. Palin would certainly be helped in Iowa and elsewhere by the documentary that brings her to the state in the first place, as it highlights her little-known accomplishments in Alaska and tends to produce a reaction of respect for Palin in even critical reviewers (at least according to its producer).
If she does still plan to run, Palin has done a brilliant job designing her dance to avoid the precise sort of pressure Pawlenty and Bachmann now face in Iowa. After all, had she gotten in at any point before now, a relatively poor early performance (like Pawlenty’s) might have made Iowa a do-or-die state — and a relatively strong early performance (like Bachmann’s) might have created an expectation of perfection in Iowa. As it is, Palin has had fun cruising the country, kicking back in Alaska and, now, again, creating media attention.
But, as always, I maintain Palin is perfectly suited for the position she already has — that of a spokesperson for the conservative cause. She is, after all, masterful at these sorts of charades, at potentially-but-probably-not-campaign-related activity, non-committal and cryptic non-denial denials, etc., etc., etc. In the meantime, in her Facebook posts, in TV interviews and out and about, she continues to articulate the conservative position on issue after issue in a way I find impossible to disagree with, even if she sometimes leaves a lot to be desired in her presentation of the reasons she does what she does and believes what she believes.
A relatively recent interview, for example, in which I found her particularly compelling: