As The 'Un-Candidate,' Palin Tests GOP Patience

Sep 20, 2011

Author Joe McGinniss has been out this week promoting his new book about Sarah Palin — a book widely condemned for gossipy allegations by anonymous sources. The book is getting attention in part because Palin might be running for president.

This summer, Palin certainly looked like a presidential candidate as she rode through Iowa and New Hampshire in a red-white-and-blue bus, but as time ticks away the pressure is building on Palin to make her candidacy official.

Technically, Sarah Palin can put off becoming a formal candidate for at least another month or so. The first registration deadline to get on a primary ballot isn't until October 31, in Florida. After that, the deadlines come quickly in important states like South Carolina and New Hampshire. But when it comes to the earliest test for candidates, the Iowa caucuses, there is no formal registration.

"There is not a printed ballot, so there is not a deadline to be on the ballot," says Iowa Republican party chairman Matt Strawn.

Strawn says, in theory, anybody can win the Iowa caucuses — declared candidates or undeclared — but that's theory.

"Practically speaking, because it such an organization-heavy process where you need to have leaders in upwards of 1,800 precincts across the state, it's not something you can put together in short order," he says.

But if anybody can do it in short order, it's Sarah Palin. The state director for another major campaign says Palin could probably do it with "a couple of phone calls." And then there's the shout-out Palin gave at the start of her recent speech in Indianola, Iowa.

"It's so good to see the O4P and C4P people here!" Palin shouted to the crowd.

C4P (Conservatives4Palin) and O4P (Organize4Palin) are groups that have been preparing the way for a Palin candidacy. They say they're a grassroots effort, with no formal connection to Palin.

"It's not too late to get in, not too late at all," says Peter Singleton, who runs the O4P effort in Iowa.

Singleton, a lawyer from California whose current base of operations is the West Des Moines Days Inn, says he's been helping to prepare for a Palin candidacy practically since the day after the 2008 election.

"I've spoken at probably 65 different Republican county, central committees and met one-on-one with their chairmen or chairwomen, and the race is absolutely wide open — it remains wide open," Singleton says.

Trudy Caviness, the Republican chairwoman in Wapello County in southeastern Iowa, says that if Sarah Palin has not announced by the time of the Iowa caucuses, she still expects that there will be votes cast for Palin in her county. She says some Republicans like the fact that Palin is a sort of "un-candidate."

"As long as she can stay outside of the 'group' that's running, it makes her much more unique," Caviness says.

The Problem With The Waiting Game

But there are also plenty of Republicans who have become annoyed by Palin's un-candidacy. The editor of the blog Red State, Erick Erickson, says he thinks Palin has been trying — and failing — to stimulate a groundswell of support ahead of a formal candidacy.

"That was kind of my theory all along, is that she would see if she did all of these things, would her polling improve, and if so, she would run," Erickson says. "I'm not seeing her polling improve. In fact, I'm seeing her polling go down even further with Republican voters."

Erickson recently posted a column about Palin entitled, simply, "Enough." He says she's keeping her hardcore fans from considering the merits of the declared Republican candidates.

"If she doesn't ultimately get in then you're going to have a bunch of people who, to a degree, they're going to have to be deprogrammed because they've gone all-in with a candidate who's a no-show," he says.

So far, Palin's Facebook page and Twitter feed remain silent on her intentions. But in a video clip posted by a conservative blog this summer, she said she wanted to be "fair to supporters, and not keep them hanging on in perpetuity."

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