Sarah Palin, back in Iowa, and back to hinting at a White House run

Earlier this week, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin promotes her television show, "Amazing America with Sarah Palin," at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Sarah Palin is back in Iowa, hinting at a potential run for president.

Heard this before? You betcha.

Yes, it happened in the run-up to the 2012 election. And now, again, in the run-up to 2016.

Palin told thousands of Iowa political activists gathered Saturday for a multi-candidate speechmaking fest near downtown Des Moines that it was time for the sign “that says no girls allowed” to be taken off the Oval office door.


“If you want something said, you ask a man; if you want something done, you ask a woman,” she told the crowd, adding “Now I’m ready for Hillary, are you?”

It was not exactly an announcement: Palin came closer to that in a hotel lobby late Friday when she told a Washington Post reporter that she was “seriously interested” in pursuing the presidency.

None of it, of course, means that Palin will actually run. The 2008 vice presidential nominee who quit as governor of Alaska before her first term was up is something of an echo of Donald Trump when it comes to teasing a presidential campaign that doesn’t come to fruition. Both have seemed to be seeking relevance rather than the rigors -- and verdict -- of a campaign.

(Trump appeared at the same Des Moines event Saturday, and he said he too might run for president; he also took the opportunity to savage potential opponents Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.)

Palin’s suggestion that she was considering a run for president felt particularly familiar to Iowans, who were extras in the drama last time.

It was in Pella, Iowa, that in June 2011 Palin held the premiere of a movie about her political career, with the street in front of the town’s historic opera house blocked off to add Hollywood dazzle.

“It’s a tough decision; it’s a big decision to decide whether to run for office or not. I’m still contemplating,” Palin said then, calling the option “earth-shattering.”

A few weeks earlier, she had shown up at a clambake in New Hampshire the same day that Romney declared his candidacy for president in the same state. A month or so after the opera house premiere, she just happened to come to the Iowa State Fair -- the day before the state’s Ames straw poll. In neither case, she said, did she intend to steal anyone’s thunder.


Alas for her supporters, a 2012 run was not to be. In October 2011, she backed away from the race, declaring that “as always, my family comes first.”

And, she said, she owed it to her tea party compadres to work for them rather than run herself.

“My decision is based upon a review of what common-sense conservatives and independents have accomplished, especially over the last year,” Palin wrote in her announcement. “I believe that at this time I can be more effective in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants.”

She has campaigned for others since — including Joni Ernst, Iowa’s newest senator, who evinced rhetoric similar to some of Palin’s blunt lines when she touted her experience castrating pigs. (Some things are perhaps too descriptive for a national audience. By this week, when Ernst delivered the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, she referred to a background in which she had “plowed the fields of our family farm.”)


Palin has spent her time out of office working on two television shows celebrating her native Alaska and, last summer, starting a Web-based communications vehicle — When she first advertised it last year, Palin said the site would cost supporters $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year. On it resided pictures of her children, greetings to her parents, blog posts and a ticker that counted down President Obama’s remaining time in office.

At the time, political strategists said the web operation was a way for Palin to communicate with her supporters without a media filter. And, one added, there was another obvious use for the subscription list that she developed: as a fundraising tool for a new political campaign.

For political news and analysis, follow me on Twitter: @cathleendecker