By Ken Feltman
Sarah Palin may run for president not to win but to keep herself in the public eye and raise money for her PAC (and herself). If she runs as a Republican, she starts way behind and will have to cram on the issues to avoid bombing in her first debate. She is not very good at cramming. But if she runs as an independent – hoping to capitalize on her popularity with the tea parties – she can avoid the possibility of a failed debate till after Labor Day next year. Meantime, she can continue to raise money and grab headlines.
Of course, the downside for Republicans is that as a third-party or independent candidate, Palin will take votes from the eventual Republican nominee – perhaps delivering the election to President Obama. Palin might not care what the GOP establishment thinks of her. She is still bitter about the treatment she received in 2008. But does she want to cause the tea parties to have to decide whether their future is as spoilers for otherwise electable Republicans or whether they want to be part of a reformed GOP?
Palin would like to continue with things the way they are – with others doing the heavy lifting of running for their parties’ nominations while she continues to raise money and enjoy the benefits of celebrity. But she can’t. The 2012 election will force her to make choices. Her choices may force tea party people to make choices. So although Palin seems to hold a very strong hand today, the coming election – which may be her “expiration date” – creates possibly insoluble problems.
Sarah Palin can be expected to make hay while the sun shines and hope that, somehow, she is still viable after November of next year.