Sarah Palin speech in Iowa keeps fans guessing


…If she does run, she would be expected to reach out to Republicans in Iowa more than her schedule today indicates, Republican campaign strategists said.

“I’m not making any assumptions that she’s in the race,” said Bill Lacy, who managed Republican presidential campaigns for Bob Dole and Fred Thompson. “But even with her level of celebrity, it would be very hard to win a race without engaging voters in a very retail way.”

Palin is expected to speak to more than 1,000 Iowa Republican donors tonight at Hy-Vee Hall as the featured guest for the state party’s annual fall fundraiser.

Palin, who has not sat for media interviews on her political travels this year, has no plans to take questions from media at the dinner, or even meet privately with party leaders, candidates or top donors before the event. Palin is expected to depart Iowa immediately afterward.

If she runs, Palin could try a different tack

It’s an unusual approach in Iowa for someone mentioned by some as a top prospect for the 2012 presidential nomination.

By contrast, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, also a 2012 prospect and the Reagan dinner’s keynote speaker last year, met privately during his visit with Iowa’s Republican Party chairman and national committee members and held interviews with Iowa press.

Since then, Pawlenty has visited Iowa four more times and hired an Iowa political staffer. He’s scheduled to return in October.

Palin’s approach is in keeping with her arm’s-length relationship with the Iowa Republican Party since stepping aside as Alaska governor last year.

When Palin resigned in July 2009, state party leaders invited her to headline last year’s fall fundraiser. Receiving no answer, party organizers renewed the invitation periodically last year, hearing nothing until Palin’s political action committee asked in July whether the invitation was still open.

Palin complained publicly this month about news media portrayal of what unfolded with the invitation. She said the media gave the wrong impression that she was courting Iowans.

Some Iowa strategists stand by conventional wisdom that Palin would be expected to spend plenty of time in Iowa courting Republicans. But others said Palin has found a way to defy convention so far.

Kim Schmett, a Clive Republican, said Palin’s popularity may allow her to campaign differently, should she run. Palin has been able to stay relevant despite giving up her elected position and has remained visible without engaging widely in traditional media, Schmett noted.

She frequently uses social media, for instance, with 253,660 followers on Twitter as of Thursday.

“I think Sarah Palin has really mastered an unorthodox style,” said Schmett, who ran for Congress from Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District in 2008. “She doesn’t do what normal campaigns do. Her style is not what you would expect from someone running for president.”

Lacy said Palin would be wise, should she decide to run, to use social media as a way to organize an on-the-ground approach, the way President Barack Obama’s campaign did in winning the 2008 Democratic caucuses in Iowa.

“What you do is you take the new media and you integrate it with a traditional retail campaign,” said Lacy, now director of the Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas. “You have to fight it out in the trenches of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, and doing the new media to further that.”

Support for Branstad irks Vander Plaats’ fans

Palin could face skepticism from some Iowa Republicans about her endorsement of former Gov. Terry Branstad in the primary for governor. The No. 2 finisher, Bob Vander Plaats, received 41 percent of the vote on June 8.

There remains some bitterness from the primary.

Vander Plaats never endorsed Branstad after a post-primary meeting between the two went poorly, and Vander Plaats’ supporters tried unsuccessfully to nominate him for lieutenant governor at the state convention.

Some Republicans said Palin’s endorsement of Branstad, the Republican establishment candidate, over Vander Plaats, an outsider more associated with tea party supporters, betrayed her image as a rebel.

“Do I think it’s a disqualifier for her with regard to my base?” said Vander Plaats, a Sioux City businessman. “Not a disqualifier, but it complicates the vetting process for her. There is some significant blowback in Iowa.”

Vander Plaats is now campaigning against the retention of three Iowa Supreme Court judges who participated in the unanimous ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

Vander Plaats, who was 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s Iowa campaign chairman, said he likely would support the former Arkansas governor if he sought the 2012 nomination. Huckabee has said it’s unlikely he’ll run again.

Vicki Crawford, a Granger Republican who supported Vander Plaats in the governor primary, said that before Palin’s Iowa endorsement, Crawford would have considered backing Palin in a potential caucus campaign. Not anymore.

“She has changed her focus in the last year to win-at-just-about-any-cost instead of do-right-at-all-costs,” Crawford said. “She would not be my choice unless something changed drastically.”

RCP:Mark Levin Trashes Newt Gingrich As A “Phony” And “Has Been”

Mark Levin criticized former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich as a “pseudo-conservative. This was apart of a nearly half-an-hour rant on the nationally syndicated “Mark Levin Show.” Colin Powell did not escape criticism from Levin, either. Levin castigated him for voting for Obama. Powell not only voted for him, he announced it on a liberal news outlet and did so, he held off until the last minute to do the maximum damage he could,” said Levin. “It was an utter lack of disloyalty and dishonor,” Levin added. Levin went on to criticize Gingrich for supporting Colin Powell and told the former speaker he does not know the same Ronald Reagan that he does. Levin accused Gingrich of having too much personal “baggage” and “undisciplined” when he makes public comments. Loyalty and integrity

Coming Soon: Great American Conservative Women Calendar


By Dick Morris And Eileen McGann

…Yesterday’s primary victories of O’Donnell in Delaware, and DioGuardi in New York illustrates how the Tea Party is cleansing the Republican Party and installing true believers over professional politicians. It is a healthy trend that will continue to recreate the Party of Reagan.

But the conventional media, instead of hailing this trend, warns that conservatives cannot be elected and bemoans the victory of true believers saying that it is equivalent to handing seats to the Democrats and the liberals. This reasoning, which made sense in other times, is badly flawed in today’s political climate.

When social issues like abortion, gays, and guns dominate the political discourse, moderates have a big advantage. Voters in these times tend to measure themselves on a left to right spectrum and find those flanked sharply to their right to be extremist on these issues and reject their candidacies.

But these days, social issues are in remission and economic/fiscal problems have, understandably, taken center stage. In this environment, purists of the right have a big advantage because nobody doubts the sincerity with which they embrace the goals of limited government, low taxes, and reduced spending. Politicians of all stripes – including most Democrats – vow allegiance to them as does the overwhelming majority of the electorate. In this environment, the distinctions of left and right give way to the difference between sincerity and insincerity, leaving the voters to judge. With candidates like Sharron Angle in Nevada or Christine O’Donnell in Delaware or DioGuardia in New York, voters don’t have to guess. They know real conservatives when they see them…

Will the White House Play the Palin Card?

The Atlantic – Marc Ambinder

… Tying the mainstream GOP to the Tea Party is a topic under discussion in the White House. But how? Trying to make John Boehner a foil for the election, or even Jim DeMint, or even Glenn Beck, is like spending half of the amount you’ve budgeted for a nice wool suit. Instead of Dolce and Gabbana, you wear Kenneth Cole.

There is, in fact, a much better avatar of the Tea Party movement, someone whose very name provokes disgust among Democrats, someone whose name identification is 100 percent and whose ubiquity is extremely useful.

That person is Sarah Palin.  All that’s required is for the President to utter her name a couple of times. The Fox-Rush-Redstate nexus would explode. Palin would bask in the attention and respond. And respond. And respond. The press would cover the story and ask why the President would elevate Sarah Palin? David Broder might write a column bemoaning the fact that the President chose politics over the institution of the presidency, which is supposed to respect the dignity of all Americans.

Elevate Sarah Palin? How much higher can she go? Everyone knows her.  Some of Obama’s advisers have argued in the past that the attention paid to Palin by Americans in the last stages of the 2008 campaign is one reason why Obama was able to win so cleanly.

Palin and the Tea Party movement are not the same thing. The movement, evolving out of movement conservatism, is principally about government and the economy. Palin revels in the culture wars. But when that part of the Tea Party that does care about social issues becomes the story, linking the two in the public’s mind is easier…