What's behind Sarah Palin's surprise trip to the Iowa State Fair?

Sarah Palin's One Nation bus tour is making a surprise visit to the State Fair in Iowa, where GOP presidential candidates (and the attendant press corps) are gathered for a debate and straw poll.

Ryan J. Foley/AP
In this file photo, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, greets a child in downtown Pella, Iowa on June 28, before attending the first public screening of "The Undefeated," a documentary about her rise in politics.

Sarah Palin and her One Nation bus tour are making a surprise trip to Iowa, if you haven’t heard. In an email sent yesterday to supporters of her political action committee she said she’s going to “meet folks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines this week.”

“State fairs hold a special place in our nation’s history and heritage, so my family is honored to highlight one of them on one stop along the One Nation Tour route,” wrote the ex-governor of Alaska.

Does this mean a President Palin would make the Iowa State Fairgrounds a National Park? Just asking.

Palin also noted that she’s excited to try some of the Iowa State Fair’s famous fried foods, including fried butter-on-a-stick, fried cheesecake, and so forth. She’ll enjoy them “in honor of those who’d rather make us just ‘eat our peas,’ ” noted Palin, in a not-so-veiled reference to President Obama’s recent statement comparing the hard choices in a debt deal with legume consumption.

Vegetables aside, we’ll say this about that: once again, Sarah Palin has proved that she is the quasi-political attention-getting master of the US media universe.

That’s because there just happens to be a debate in Ames, Iowa tonight among declared GOP presidential contenders. A straw poll follows this weekend. So hundreds of political reporters are already in Iowa – pre-positioned for a Palin drive-by. Pure genius.

Somewhere Rick Santorum is sitting in a hotel room with his face in his hands. It’s the lagging candidates who’ll really feel the tire tracks of the bus tour. If you’re a “Good Morning America” producer, which story would you rather see on the air – Gingrich Campaign Still Dead, or Palin Views a Cow Made Entirely of Butter?

Plus, SarahPAC has posted a new one-minute Palin video that makes pretty much every other Republican contender’s commercials look underproduced.

It’s a paean to small town America, which grows “good people ... with honesty and sincerity and dignity.” It invokes Harry Truman, contains several quick shots of the young Ronald Reagan, and lingers on an Iowa State Fair sign.

The sound track is Palin’s speech at the 2008 GOP convention. The overall impression it leaves is that Michele Bachmann is a good speaker, Michele Bachmann is a former tax attorney, Michele Bachmann is a tea party favorite, but Sarah Palin is still way better at lighting people on fire with words.

Does all this mean Palin is going to run for president? She’s still not saying. But it sure looks like she’s running for something, even if it’s only Queen of the Midway.

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