The PJ Tatler

Palin's Trial Balloon

Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has fueled speculation that she is seriously considering a run for the GOP nomination in 2016.

Palin told the Washington Post, “You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested” in running for president. She also told ABC News earlier in the week, “Yeah, I mean, of course, when you have a servant’s heart, when you know that there is opportunity to do all you can to put yourself forward in the name of offering service, anybody would be interested.”

When asked about the familiar names already popping up in the potential GOP primary, including Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush, neither of whom will attend the Iowa Freedom Summit, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee quipped, “I can’t wait for new energy.” She added there had “better be a competition and not a coronation,” making it clear she thinks that’s the only way Republicans can beat Hillary Clinton, if the former first lady and secretary of state emerges as the Democratic nominee.

“Big competition, and that competition in the GOP … will surface that candidate who can take on Hillary, be ready for Hillary and show the nation what it is going to take to get the country back on the right track — because we can’t afford status quo, because status quo lately has been Latin for, ‘We are getting screwed,’ and status quo has got to go,” she said.

As for who she wants to see as that “right candidate,” she described the person as someone who will “turn things around, someone who will, in some respects, I don’t know, maybe be considered a bit avant garde, to the establishment anyway, because this next person has got to realize this is war, this is war for our hunters’ future.

“I want to help find that candidate that realizes that [their standing in the next election is] not what matters, that’s not what is at stake,” Palin said. “What’s at stake is our children and our grandchildren’s future.”

Palin sounds like a candidate to me. And she’s teeing off on Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, implying that their establishmentarianism is no better than the status quo — a potent theme that will resonate with the conservative base.

She also implies that Bush/Romney aren’t strong enough to get in the trenches with Hillary and the Clinton machine to duke it out. She certainly describes herself when she says she thinks the GOP candidate should be “considered a bit avante garde.” In fact, the way she describes the ideal candidate is like she’s looking in a mirror.

There is no GOP candidate with a more enthusiastic, loyal base of supporters. But there is also no GOP candidate whose numbers are more underwater and who carries as much baggage as Sarah Palin.

A recent CBS Poll told the story. Even Chris Christie’s numbers are better.

Only 29 percent say they’d like to see Christie launch a bid, while 44 percent say otherwise. (Only former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s numbers are more underwater: 30 percent of Republicans say they’d like to see her run, but 59 percent disagree.)

Allahpundit recently penned an interesting post at Hot Air regarding the path to the nomination open for Marco Rubio. He suggested the odds favoring Rubio are long and there didn’t appear to be a viable road that the Florida senator could take to win the GOP nomination.

The same might be said of Palin. Enthusiastic as her supporters may be, there simply aren’t enough of them. She has improved her standing within the Republican Party thanks to her high-profile support of several successful candidates, but her numbers are still lousy with independents. And while a wide open field suggests someone with support in the low to high teens may be able to compete for the nomination for a while, once the field is winnowed out, it’s hard to see where Palin would get additional support.

But Palin may have other reasons for running, including denying Romney and Bush a cakewalk to the nomination. Her favorability ratings may be a liability, but her name recognition is far better than any other conservative candidate. Her entrance in the race would be a wild card that could peel off support from both establishment and conservative candidates alike.

If Palin was floating a trial balloon to gauge reaction to her possible candidacy, it was certainly a success with her supporters. However, motivating her base is the easy part. Lining up donors, creating an organization, and fielding a staff is the hard part. And that has yet to come.