Election 2008

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Scott Sady/AP

Political Forecasters Discuss the Probability of Palin 2012

October 22, 2008 07:00 PM
by Josh Katz
Some observers say Sarah Palin’s recent actions signal a potential bid for the White House in 2012, as pundits on both sides of the aisle debate her chances.

A Palin Presidential Run Intrigues Some

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Palin 2012 is a definite possibility, say observers. They claim that recent campaign actions might indicate that the Alaska governor is gearing up for a presidential run four years down the line. As John McCain’s chances for the White House appear dimmer each day, Palin could be trying to distance herself from the senator during her final weeks on the campaign trail.

“Sarah’s the one,” said a leading conservative who does not think McCain will be victorious this year. “The party is broken and only she can fix it. We need someone who comes from outside Washington and relates to the aspirations of ordinary Americans.”

Sen. John Edwards separated himself from Sen. John Kerry during the 2004 presidential election, perhaps in preparation for his run for presidency in 2008, according to the Daily Telegraph, and Palin might be doing the same thing.

Palin has been openly critiquing some of the policies of McCain and the way he runs his campaign in the last few weeks, writes Andrew Romano of Newsweek. On Oct. 3, she questioned the prudence of the campaign decision to pull out of Michigan, saying, “I want to get back to Michigan and I want to try.” On Oct. 5, she said the campaign should stress Barack Obama’s relationship with the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Jr. On Oct. 11, she disagreed with McCain and said the Bush administration made a “wise decision” when it removed North Korea from the terror list. On Oct. 20, she derided the campaign’s reliance on automated calls, or robocalls, and television ads. Then, on Oct. 21, she announced her support for a national gay marriage ban, running counter to McCain’s belief in each state’s right to decide on the issue.

Palin has strong support from the conservative and religious right, who agree with her categorical opposition to abortion and her advocacy of a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The religious right has been wary of the sometimes moderate-leaning John McCain. However, Palin’s ability to secure independent and moderate voters could be her greatest obstacle to the presidency. 

Commenting on Palin’s chances for 2012, Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist said, “It depends if she can return to being more than someone who rallies the conservative base.” Castellanos said in the Daily Telegraph, “For a while, she was much more than that. She represented Americans frustrated with failed government in Washington. She wasn’t just a conservative, she was a populist. She was President Harry Truman, she was that Maggie Thatcher figure. She can become that again.”

Opinion & Analysis: Will Palin be a factor in four years?

Elyas Bakhtiari of The Moderate Voice does not have a lot of faith in Palin’s ability to reach the highest office: “I think a lot of people are seriously over-estimating her political talents. Not only is she incompetent in areas of policy, but she lacks the subtlety and smarts to even be an effective campaigner. With any luck, we won’t be seeing much of her after November 4.”

Justin Gardner of Donklephant is even more blunt: “Nope, Palin is done. Take it to the bank.” Gardner argues that Palin is currently considered a hindrance to McCain’s campaign, and her troublesome interviews might remind some Republicans of the unpopular President Bush; furthermore, the Troopergate scandal will still hang over her head. Fiscal conservatives wouldn’t back her either, he claims, because her economic policies in Alaska are redistributionist. Gardner thinks Mitt Romney is the best Republican option for 2012, particularly because of his strong economic background.

But Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post blog, “The Fix,” disagrees. Cillizza believes, “Like her or hate her, Palin remains VERY much in the mix as a 2012 candidate.” He argues that Palin wields tremendous support from the conservative base: “they view her as their first real spokesperson on the national stage in recent memory—perhaps since Ronald Reagan. It’s hard to imagine those feelings going away because she has not worn well with either moderate and independent minded voters of the conservative media.”
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