Politics & Policy

Sarah Palin’s Future

How does she fit in now?

 

On Wednesday night, former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin ended the speculation: She will not be running for president in 2012. Not as a Republican. Not as a third-party candidate. Did Palin make the right decision? How does her decision shape the presidential race going forward? What’s her role now? National Review Online asked some Palin-watchers.

 

DAVID BRODY

New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg can breathe a sigh of relief. He won’t have to run as an Independent presidential candidate. The haters can stand down. They can put their hate on hold. And Jon Stewart? Sorry. No Sarah Palin jokes this election cycle.

The fact that Sarah Palin is not running for president doesn’t really come as a surprise. It may be heartbreaking for her fans but it comes as a dose of good news for Rick Perry . . . and he could use some. The Texas governor can be thankful she won’t detract from his base of support. Bachmann, Cain, and Santorum are smiling a little more, too — knowing they now have a shot at a lot of those folks who were holding out for Palin. And Mitt Romney? He would have liked to see Palin run only so she could splinter the tea-party and evangelical voting blocs even further. That won’t happen now, so it’s a bit of a negative for Romney — but definitely manageable.

As for Palin’s future, she is still a force to be reckoned with and young enough to run in 2016 if Obama gets a second term. Heck, she can run in 2020 and age wouldn’t be a problem. In the meantime, watch the focus turn to Palin’s quest to remake the Republican party into a band of constitutional conservatives. That’s the future, and Palin will be one of the big leaders in this movement.

— David Brody is chief political correspondent at CBN News.

NANCY FRENCH

Maybe — just maybe — had she run, more Americans would have gotten to know the Sarah Palin I know: a woman of genuine warmth, quick wit, and fearless conviction. The presidential race could have used her fire, and a debate schedule missing even the hope of her undeniable charisma makes me feel sleepier than Rick Perry in hour two.

There are others who mourn her absence as well, but for more malevolent reasons. Across America, leftist hacks are lamenting diminished web traffic and lost book sales. The woman they love to hate will not in fact lead the Republican party (at least not this election cycle). I must admit I would have enjoyed Andrew Sullivan’s head-spinning rage, Bill Maher’s spittle-flinging tirades, and NPR’s funeral-dirge interludes during All Things Considered with each uptick in her poll numbers. Across America, Priuses (Prii?) would have sported door-kicking dents and Whole Foods would have stocked pure (organic) grain alcohol as liberals raged, then drowned their sorrows. 

It would have been quite the spectacle. It would have been a wild ride. She is a warrior by nature, and I look forward to seeing her enter the next arena — whenever and wherever that is.

Nancy French is co-author of Home and Away: A Story of Family in a Time of War and Bristol Palin’s Not Afraid of Life.

 

TERRY JEFFREY 

I heard Sarah Palin explain her decision on my friend Mark Levin’s always-outstanding radio show. She did not offer her resignation from American political life, but rather a stirring battle cry for the forces of right in the very real struggle for the soul of our country. “We cannot afford this fundamental transformation of America, turning it into something that we don’t even recognize,” Palin said, speaking of President Obama’s design to organically change our nation. “Instead, we need to restore this country. We need to restore all that is good, and right and free about America. Our republic is worth defending. We do not need a transformation, we need a renewal. We need a restoration of America.”  The 2012 election may not be Sarah Palin’s Agincourt, but as with the young Prince Hal who became the fearsome Henry V, we are seeing the emergence of a leader who will someday crush the fools who arrogantly underestimated her.

— Terry Jeffrey is editor-in-chief of CNSNews.com.

AMY KREMER

While many in this grassroots movement are disappointed that Governor Palin is not running for president, I think she made the right decision. Obviously, she made the best decision for her and her family. Running for president is the most grueling campaign that a politician can face. Governor Palin has already experienced this to some degree, and it would only have intensified had she become a candidate in 2012. Going forward, she will not be under the scrutiny and pressure of a presidential candidate, and this will allow her to be more focused on helping elect conservatives to the House and Senate.

Governor Palin has always been a fighter for the principles and values of the tea-party movement. Now that she won’t be focusing on her own presidential bid, she can be an effective voice behind the other candidates, helping to keep them on message. And she can use the funds from Sarah PAC to help other candidates across the country, meaning that Sen. Harry Reid’s grip on the gavel just loosened.

— Amy Kremer is chairman of Tea Party Express and a co-founder of the American Grassroots Coalition.

SETH LEIBSOHN

Sarah Palin’s announcement comes as no surprise and some relief. No surprise in that a) if she were truly interested in running, it would have made a lot more sense for her to have entered some time ago when there was no reason not to and b) there is no particular constituency she satisfies that isn’t already satisfied by several of the announced candidates. Where the current leading candidates are running on their records of job creation or business expertise, she really has neither. And relief, simply because we are now in the moment where it’s become tiresome for the unannounced to be toying with the race and the electorate: From Romney to Santorum, from Perry to Cain, from Gingrich to Bachmann, we have a full and complete field that covers the span of the GOP in all its parts and preferences. Finally, while a precedent is not a rule, it’s hard to think of a failed Republican vice-presidential candidate who could translate that into the Republican nomination for president. It took Bob Dole 20 years to do that, and then only after a lot of serious public service and testing.

— Seth Leibsohn is a fellow of the Claremont Institute.

 

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ

I’ve long thought that Sarah Palin is a lot more transparent than people give her credit for: Ever since she was picked by Sen. John McCain, she has been feeling her way through how best to use her power. Because it’s hard to deny she is a cultural and political force. She can help get Saxby Chambliss over the reelection fence and she can help more than a few nominees this coming 2012 round, too. Whatever you think of her and how she’s dealt with things, she’s been put through a lot simply for saying “Yes” to a candidate’s call back in August 2008. I’m grateful to her for her witness as the mother of a child with Down Syndrome who said that life-saving “Yes.” I’m grateful she took that decision so seriously. 

It took a certain amount of humility for Chris Christie to say “no” again, as money was dangled before him and there were desperate cries from those not content with the current field. Similarly for Palin: She didn’t experience the begging surge this week that Governor Christie did, but after seeing Steve Bannon’s Undefeated, I couldn’t help but think: If I were Sarah Palin, I’d be really tempted to run for president. But she didn’t give in to ego. And for anyone worried about the conservative base this time around, she’ll be a rallying asset.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.

 

JAMES PETHOKOUKIS

The Republican presidential field has a noticeable gap: There’s no one clearly running on a platform of dismantling the crony-capitalist state that brought America the housing bubble, the financial crisis, TARP, and Solyndra. Nor is anyone clearly addressing the concerns of middle-class families suffering from both a housing collapse and an anti-family tax code. 

Sarah Palin might well have been the candidate to do both. Here’s Palin last month: “This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts, of waste and influence peddling and corporate welfare.” 

Good stuff. And while all the rest of the 2012 GOPers talk endlessly about business tax cuts, Mama Grizzly might have been the one to finally call for the GOP to embrace a pro-family tax cut, such as dramatically expanding the child tax credit. It’s an issue that won’t excite Wall Street money men, but Palin wouldn’t have needed their dough anyway to compete for the nomination. Even though she’s out, we can hope that she will get some of those ideas in. 

— James Pethokoukis is a columnist and blogger at the American Enterprise Institute.

JOHN J. PITNEY JR.

Sarah Palin made the right decision. Even for someone with universal name recognition, it was just too late to raise money and build state-level organizations. Moreover, polls showed that Republicans did not want her to run. If she had entered the race, she would have started far behind the other candidates and faced a much steeper hill.

With both Palin and Christie out of contention, what now? Romney will probably pick up much of the money that would have gone to Christie. As for conservative primary voters who might have backed Palin, much will depend on the debates. Now that Cain seems to be entering the top tier, he can look forward to harder questions and tougher scrutiny. Perry needs to show that he can recover from his stumbles and put in a strong performance all the way to the last minute.

Advice to Romney: Remember that you need votes, not just money. Advice to Cain: Hit the briefing books. Advice to Perry: Chug some Red Bull.

— John J. Pitney Jr. is Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics at Claremont McKenna College.

 

LARRY J. SABATO

Not only did Sarah Palin make the right decision, there was no other reasonable decision left to her. As at least one other possible presidential candidate discovered this week, it is simply too late to try to throw together a multi-million-dollar campaign organization, with the voting in key states beginning in less than three months. In my view, Palin’s fate was sealed when she resigned from her governorship. It would have been impossible to explain that move adequately to the swing voters who decide elections.

Some of her activities and statements since then haven’t helped her either. A large majority of Republicans now has an unfavorable view of her, didn’t want her to run for the nomination, and correctly believed she would have lost to President Obama — despite all his troubles — had she been the GOP nominee. Her remaining support will go in many directions in the current contest, and is unlikely to be decisive. There can be second, third, and fourth acts in American politics, especially in this media age, for someone as young and vigorous as Palin. But she has to go about it differently, developing real expertise on a couple of major public-policy issues — something she has failed to do despite repeated prompting so far. A soap opera or reality show will eventually be cancelled, and will never be taken seriously.

— Larry J. Sabato is director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. 

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