Palin will undoubtedly toss her hat into the presidential ring, but she has her eye on the real prize—the open U.S. Senate seat in Arizona.
Pundits have weighed in. Republican strategist Karl Rove says “yes.”
Robert Costa, a political operative in the early primary state of Iowa, told National Review: “I believe that she will run. I can’t see her sitting this election out.”
And conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin tells The Daily Caller, that he believes Palin will run. “Just want to put my marker down because others are starting to do it and I put it down quite some time ago.”
In other words, nobody really knows, but wants to be the first to say, “I told you so.”
In that case, here is my marker.
Palin will run, but not just for the GOP nomination for president.
That is, Palin will use the presidential primaries to raise her political profile, revive her supporters’ loyalty and enthusiasm, and guarantee her election to the open U.S. Senate seat in Arizona.
That is the real prize. She will run for two offices at once. One public. The other one, stealth. And it is a well-thought-out plan.
See the logic? President Obama is weakest in the southern states. He is a highly polarizing figure in Arizona with the “illegal immigration” and “secure our borders” issues. Add Obamacare and the “death panels” barbs from Palin and you see the divide writ large.
Palin can spend months throwing these barbs straight at the president’s camp—which would endear her to whomsoever is the eventual GOP nominee—and simultaneously energize her base for a Senate run.
Palin could also use the free national press and campaign forums to ramp up her attacks on the national debt, on unnecessary taxes and on any efforts to curb Medicare and Social Security. Think again: Arizona retirees.
Furthermore, she could collect lots of air time (in the debates, if she chooses) or on her bus tour, and simultaneously raise ooodles of money online. Her SarahPAC blog has legions of followers. Her new movie is making the rounds. And she is a prized catch for speaking invitations all over the Midwest. Add state fairs and summer picnics and you can imagine the Norman Rockwell images.
In short, Palin has become her own political weather system. That is what the press fails to understand. Every moose hunter knows which way the wind blows and has a well-thought-out escape route. Their life depends on it. And Palin plans accordingly.
Thus, Arizona. Palin recently bought a house there. Her running mate in 2008, Sen. John McCain, lives there. Republican Sen. Jon Kyl is retiring, which leaves the seat open for Palin—should she accept the assignment. And Republicans are not an endangered species there.
That is my bet on Palin’s ultimate chess move. She takes the presidential stage, retreats gracefully, grabs the U.S. Senate seat, and lives to reload and fight another day. It may seem counterintuitive, but few have guessed her best moves yet.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I wrote a column that dubbed Palin’s resignation as governor of Alaska a “brilliant political move” at a time when the national media called it a disaster and the death knell for Palin.
Since then, she has fooled most everyone who predicted her demise. In short order, she became a best-selling author, a multimillionaire, the host of a Discovery Channel series on Alaska, a Fox News contributor, a brand name draw for conservative audiences, crowd-pleaser, and—proud owner of a new home in Arizona.
Just saying. Think about it.