Sarah Palin: Back in the campaign swing, and heading to Iowa

Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally Sunday in Washington, D.C.
Former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at a rally Sunday in Washington, D.C.
(Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

You’ve seen this movie before, Iowa.

Stoking another round of what-if and what-could-be, Sarah Palin is planning a return to the state where presidential dreams are fevered even this far out from the next contest.

The Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition, a conservative and evangelical group, announced that the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee will speak at its 13thannual banquet on Nov. 9.

The announcement of the planned Des Moines speech comes at a time Palin has again raised her political profile. Over the weekend, she campaigned in New Jersey for long-shot Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan, who faces Democrat and Newark Mayor Cory Booker in Wednesday’s special election. Later, she showed up in Washington to protest the closure of federal monuments during the government shutdown, providing ballast to the tea party activists who have sought to defund the national healthcare program in exchange for movement on the budget and the debt ceiling.


And on Facebook, Palin on Monday accused President Obama of malfeasance in a post titled, “Obama’s Debt Default is on His Shoulders While We Shoulder His Impeachable Offenses.” Not to mention that he was “scaremongering the markets with his talk of default.”

“Defaulting on our national debt is an impeachable offense, and any attempt by President Obama to unilaterally raise the debt limit without Congress is also an impeachable offense,” Palin said, giving the president no option other than to cave to Republicans in Congress.

Palin is a proven master of attention-getting, regularly raising the question of her intentions — is she running for president? or is she just boosting her brand?

(Coincidence? “Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas”, Palin’s latest book, comes out Nov. 12, three days after her Iowa speech. “I tell you how to fight back against those politically correct Scrooges who seem to hate not just a beautiful holiday, but an entire faith,” she said in a post touting her book).

Then, too, Palin seems to delight in the hubbub that her appearances cause. The run-up to the 2012 presidential contest was replete with Sarah-sightings, sometimes to the detriment of the candidates who were actually running.

In May 2011, she was chased by reporters as she traveled by bus from the Rolling Thunder cycle extravaganza in Washington to East Coast historical sites. A month later, on the day that Mitt Romney announced his presidential campaign in New Hampshire, Palin showed up for a tea party gathering in a nearby town, fresh from bashing Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare plan at a Boston event, and hinted that she might run too.

Later that month she was in Pella, Iowa, where hundreds of people gathered near the historic opera house for the premiere of a movie about Palin’s political career.

“It’s so warm, literally and otherwise. It’s so nice, the gift of hospitality that Pella has and all of Iowa has. It’s wonderful,” Palin told reporters gathered in the opera house lobby, in the gushing terms that candidates reserve for voters in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.


Except that she wasn’t a candidate, which would be understood only after a few more campaign-style visits to Iowa and elsewhere.

A version of the same will-she-or-won’t-she game appeared to be at play in the recent round of Palin activity. Lacking a political pulpit — she quit as Alaska governor before her first term was over, after the unsuccessful 2008 national campaign — Palin depends on a less official sway over her partisans.

For a while, particularly after several tea party candidates were defeated in 2010, Palin was again at the top of the heap of public figures representing that political wing. Recently, however, elected officials like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah have gained fame in the same circles, potentially usurping Palin’s role.

She was interviewed with Lee and Cruz over the weekend — posting pictures of them with Fox host Greta Van Susteren — and will be joined in her Des Moines appearance in November by Lee. For both of them, it may be a chance to collect chits for the future. Or, has been the case before, not.


Twitter: @cathleendecker