Allahpundit has this in the headlines, and it’s worth having the audio up here to catch the heavy qualifications Sarah Palin gives Lars Larson in this radio interview from last week. Larson asks whether she’d be willing to launch an independent run for the presidency if Palin was dissatisfied with the GOP, and while she didn’t say no, the conditions she lays down to remain within the Republican Party seem rather easy to meet (via The Right Scoop):
LARSON: Governor, I know you’ve successfully dodged the question on a thousand interviews on whether or not you’re going to run, but if run again, for something, whatever it is, would you run as a third-party candidate?
PALIN: That depends on how things go in the next couple of years.
LARSON: That sounds like a yes.
PALIN: Well, you know, it really does depend on — I think there are enough Republicans who are realizing, ‘Oh, whoops, some of those liberal Republicans have screwed up’ — I’m not including myself in that group — enough liberal Republicans have screwed up, and … the base of our party is common-sense conservatives, not obsessively partisan, but just wanting common-sense, free market principles, strong military principles to be implemented to get our country on the right track. And if the Republican Party gets back to that base, our party is going to be stronger and there’s not going to be a need for a third party. But I’ll play that by ear in the coming months, coming years.
I see this as less of a story than it seems. It helps to remember that Palin made her political bones as a reformer, an outsider to her state’s GOP. In fact, Palin scored her initial statewide success by exposing corrupt practices within her own party. Being an outsider is part of her DNA, and part of her appeal within the party.
It’s also not terribly unusual for any reformers to talk about the potential of running outside of the establishment. Ron Paul’s supporters practically formed their own third party without Paul himself in the last election cycle, and still remain a potent political force. They overlap on some of what Palin mentions in this interview, with the obvious exception of military/foreign policy.
The GOP will have to return to its “common sense, free market principles” if it wants to win in 2010. In fact, they’ll need to focus almost exclusively on those in order to win a wide, governing mandate in the midterms. All Palin is doing is reminding the GOP that they can’t take generic unhappiness with the current Congress and administration for granted and just offer business as usual — and that’s helpful indeed.
Update: I missed a “not” in that transcript, which I’ve fixed. Thanks to Philip J for the correction.