The Corner

Palin Talks 2012, Birthers, and Government Shutdown

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin isn’t ready to commit to a presidential run, but she indicated that she might decide soon, citing the need to connect with individual voters.

“Nothing is more effective than being actually there with the people in the diner, shaking hands,” Palin said during an interview today conducted by Long Island Association president Kevin Law at a luncheon sponsored by the group.

“I’d be the first to not necessarily recommend a short amount of time,” she remarked, citing the four days she had to prepare for the national scene as the vice presidential candidate. “Four days isn’t a whole lot of time to be prepared. It’s not even time enough to pack a bag. That’s why sometimes you have to borrow a wardrobe, and then you get crucified for borrowing a wardrobe for six weeks on the trail,” she wryly remarked, alluding to the uproar when it was discovered that clothes for Palin and her family during the campaign had cost $150,000.

But Palin cautioned that her recent decisions to appoint political strategist Michael Glassner as her PAC’s chief of staff shouldn’t be seen as a sign of presidential ambitions.

“I am still thinking about it [a presidential run], certainly haven’t made up my mind. Hired a chief of staff because, to tell you the truth, Todd’s getting kind of tired of doing it all for me,” Palin answered. “Just in the past couple of weeks we’ve been so doggone busy, that Todd has finally said look, I do have a few things I need to do . . . so we hired a chief of staff for practical, logistical reasons.”

Asked about her low poll numbers — a recent Gallup poll showed that over half of Americans viewed her unfavorably — Palin audibly sighed. “Yeah,” she said, later adding, “I get my butt kicked.”

“I look at those poll numbers and I say well, if I’m going to do this, then obviously I got to get out there and let people know who I am, what I stand for, and what my record is. I can’t rely on a liberal-leaning press,” she said.

“And I think what’s going to be really important if I were to do that is to have more interaction with people like you who have no kid gloves on and  you would actually ask why are your poll numbers are so poor,” Palin added. “That kind of stuff is healthy to get to discuss.”

Wearing a black jacket and skirt, a prominent flag bracelet, and leopard-print heels, Palin initially appeared stressed, delivering rapid-fire answers crammed with statistics. But as the interview continued, she visibly relaxed and even occasionally bantered with Law.

“‘Your poll numbers really stink. What’s your reaction to that?’” she playfully said, mockingly rephrasing his initial question to her.


Talking about the increasing prices of various commodities over the past two years, Palin took one jab at Michelle Obama. “It’s no wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody you better breastfeed your babies . . . yeah, you better, because the price of milk is so high right now.”

“And may that not be the takeaway [of the interview], please,” she hastily added.

Palin also indicated that a government shutdown, a possibility if a compromise cannot be reached on spending when the Continuing Resolution expires March 4, should not be seen as the nuclear option.

“I am so thankful for these strong congressmen and women who are saying no, we are not going to vote for the debt ceiling to be raised. To me, all that’s going to do is create this allowance for more big spenders,” she said.

“It [not raising debt ceiling] doesn’t necessarily have to result in a government shutdown,” Palin argued, talking about how debt payments could be the first priority when spending revenue. “There are a lot of people, though, who are saying shut her [the government] down if that’s what it takes. Let there be for a week or two there this message sent to our politicians. . . .What the people of America are saying is enough is enough, no more status quo, we don’t want to keep growing that debt and allow deficit spending.”

Palin rejects the idea that any government shutdown would have the same impact as it did in 1995. “There were mistakes made back then, even in technique,” she remarked.

Talking about Egypt, Palin said the U.S.’s priority should be ensuring that the Muslim Brotherhood did not gain political control of the country — and stressed that the U.S. should ensure that Israel wasn’t threatened.

She also made it clear that she has no patience with birther claims. “The faith, the birth certificate, others can engage in that kind of conversation. It’s distracting. It gets annoying. And let’s just stick with what really matters,” Palin urged, talking about Obama’s fiscal record.

Whether Palin opts to run or not, she thinks she has the qualifications to become president — and believes 2012 will be fascinating.

“What I would look for [in 2012] is . . . somebody who’s administered locally, state, interstate with energy issues, so maybe a mayor, a governor, an oil commissioner, maybe somebody who’s already run for something, vice president . . . ” she joked.

“It’s going to be a blast though,” Palin added, “to see who does offer themselves up in the name of service, and see what their ideas are, hear their ideas, solutions that they want to see in this country.”

If she does run, look for Palin to enjoy the campaign.

“Competition is so good, man,” she said. “I love sports. I love competition.”

Katrina Trinko — Katrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...

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