The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Ruh-Roh: Rick Perry Staffing Up in Iowa? And What About Sarah Palin? In or Out?

Posted on | July 2, 2011 | 33 Comments

First, the news:

The group “Americans for Rick Perry,” which made headlines in the last two days for trying to light a fire for the Texas governor in the form of support at the Ames Straw Poll in Iowa next month, is making hires – including a top former Newt Gingrich staffer, sources told POLITICO.
Craig Schoenfeld, a veteran Iowa strategist, has been brought on board and has started nascent discussions with others about six-week contracts – meaning the duration of the lead-up to the Ames poll, the sources said.

OK, now the gossip: When I was at Right Online, I talked to a Republican communications operative who had just returned from Texas and said he was certain Perry would run. I didn’t report that conversation at the time, because when I started asking questions, the source said he didn’t have any “inside knowledge,” but was just saying that “all the signs” from Perry’s people were that they were gearing up for a campaign.

This “Americans for Rick Perry” is a shadow-proxy operation — not an official campaign — but if you put 2 and 2 together, it adds up to . . . he’s getting in. And this changes the whole game.

Personally, my feeling is that American voters aren’t ready for another Texas Republican governor, and Perry’s got a few weak spots that his GOP opponents may hit. What Perry does have going for him is the nation’s hottest state economy — Texas is booming, despite the recession — and some serious fund-raising potential.

Next, the raw speculation: Is Sarah Palin in or out?

Beyond my own gut hunch, every serious observer and operative I’ve talked to says Palin won’t run. Wednesday, I put in a call to someone who has been through lots and lots of presidential campaigns, and he was blunt: “She’s not going to run. . . . Bachmann’s numbers are too strong. [Palin is] not going to risk embarrassing herself.”

You can take that however you want. Again, this source claimed no direct knowledge of Palin’s plans, but he’s on a first-name basis with any big-shot Republican you’d care to name, so his is certainly an informed opinion. The difficulty of saying that Palin is definitely not running, however, is that she is Sarah Palin, and she loves to prove pundits wrong.

At this stage of the game, if she did get in for 2012, she’d shock the heck out of a lot of people — which is exactly why you can’t rule it out yet.


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