I know Andrew Sullivan is convinced that Palin is going to run, but I simply don't buy it. She has already been convincingly beaten by Obama once before, why would she risk failure a second time?
There are boxes that US presidential hopefuls have to tick early. They have to start building a campaign team, albeit discreetly. They have to set up a fundraising machine. And they have to visit Iowa, the small but politically crucial state that traditionally kicks off a White House run.
Sarah Palin has ticked the first two and on Friday will tick the third when she is the main speaker at a $100-a-seat Republican dinner in Des Moines, Iowa. The party's sole superstar has not yet said whether she will seek the nomination to take on Barack Obama in 2012. But all the indications point to a run, and Friday's visit is the biggest sign yet.
Democrats may detest her, and so does the Republican establishment, for her perceived lack of sophistication and polarising effect on the electorate. But neither will make the choice in the Iowa caucus. The party activists will, and they are shifting behind her. Long before the contest has formally begun, Palin is fast on the way to becoming unstoppable.
I think she already has what she needs out of all of this; a very conservative audience who simply adore her and a TV/book career which has made her rich beyond her wildest dreams.
I would be amazed if she ran. Don't get me wrong, I would be delighted, as she would be smashed to a pulp in any contest against Obama, but I just don't think even she is dumb enough to set herself up for such a fall.
She likes the attention, as attention at this moment in her life equals money. But, I simply don't buy it that she will go all the way and declare herself a candidate. I'd love it if she did, but I simply can't see it happening.
Larry Sabato, director of the political centre at the University of Virginia, refuses to predict whether she will stand. "She does not know herself. She is just keeping the doors open. And she wants to keep all of us guessing. Sarah Palin being Sarah Palin will decide at the last minute, when she feels like it. She is not the sort to have a detailed masterplan, following it from day to day."
Sabato predicts that if she runs, she will win Iowa. "More important is what happens if she is nominated. You are looking at a landslide to the Democrats. There is no one the Democrats want more. Obama would expect to win, even if the economy was bad. She is popular among Republicans but in the country as a whole she is unpopular."
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