The report that Sarah Palin will make a decision on whether or not to run for president in the coming week comes as surprising news to Sarah Palin.
The report at the American Spectator cites “vendors of campaign services who hope to work for Team Palin” that a decision is coming soon.
The Palin tweet certainly suggests that she doesn’t plan to make her decision next week.
Ordinarily, I’m among those who contend that there’s no need for presidential campaigns to turn into two-year marathons, and that media impatience is not a good reason for a candidate to jump in so long before anyone casts any actual votes. But the traditional starting gun of presidential cycles is the Ames straw poll held in August. The 2012 cycle didn’t see the epically early launches of the 2008 cycle, but the ranks of the unaffiliated staffers and volunteers grows thinner week by week. The race is starting to take shape, and other figures like Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann are starting to get longer, more serious looks from grassroots Republicans. Palin’s high name ID and likely fundraising prowess indicate she can operate on her own timetable, but one wonders just how late she could announce before the Iowa caucuses February 6.
Certainly no later than the end of the year, right? And presuming her likely road to the nomination would include wins or near-wins in Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, could she really concede any activity in those states from now until the end of the year?
A campaign is more than just a candidate (unless you’re Newt Gingrich). Somebody has to organize the maximum turnout of supporters at the 1,784 caucuses in Iowa; somebody has to man the phone banks, design the mailers, answer the phone calls, tell the volunteers what to do and where to do it to be most effective, etc. The most important resource of any campaign is the time, attention, and energy of the candidate; the whole point of a campaign is to help do everything else that needs to be done so that the candidate’s time can be used most effectively. To do this, you need a team; to do that, you need to recruit, and to do that, you need, if not a declared campaign, a nascent one.
Sarah Palin still has time to think about what is, undoubtedly, a major, life-altering decision. But that time is limited.
UPDATE: Here’s one deadline for a decision, from the New Hampshire secretary of state’s office . . . unless any candidate isn’t interested in appearing on the ballot in New Hampshire’s primary:
The filing period will be between the first Monday in November and the third Friday in November or during such other time period as the secretary of state shall announce. A declaration of candidacy must be filed in the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office along with a filing fee of $1,000.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Robert Stacy McCain, who has always seemed a pretty darn reliable reporter, says his sources stand by their statements. He points out that Palin’s Tweet, while certainly in a scoffing tone, is not an explicit denial.
It is quite easy to picture a statement from Palin or someone close to her offering some sort of informed speculation — “she thinks she’ll decide by then,” being interpreted as more definitive as the comment is repeated. For whatever reason, some campaign vendors who want to work with a Palin presidential campaign expected to hear a decision within the next week. Palin’s comment on Twitter suggests that won’t be the case; I guess we’ll have to wait and see.