In a rain-dampened Iowa field Saturday, Sarah Palin did what she does best: titillate the tea party faithful and the dutifully assembled media, giving a full-throated presidential stump speech, even if there is as yet no official stump.
For the most part, she spoke in generalities to the Tea Party of America’s “Restoring America” event in Indianola: “We will relentlessly rage until we restore what is best about America…. We are governed by a permanent political class.” That sort of thing.
As much as many of the media looked for digs at the declared GOP presidential candidates, there were none. Still, one could read into her verbiage criticism of veteran lawmakers of both parties. “They spend, they print money, they borrow, then they leave us with the bills,” she said, referring also to “corporate crony capitalism.”
“Even some conservatives run away from what needs to be done,” she chided. “They talk in generalities.”
“I want to tell you what my plan is,” she said, and then proceeded to talk mostly in generalities: “Empowerment of our states and our entrepreneurs and mostly you. No more politics as usual. Repeal Obamacare – the mother of all unfunded mandates. Get government out of the way. No more debt. Entitlement reform.”
She was most enthusiastic in urging the country to “become the energy superpower.”
“America’s economic revival starts with America’s energy revival,” she declared. “Drill now, let the pipelines and the refineries be built. No phony green jobs.”
One very specific item in Palin’s plan is the elimination of all federal corporate income taxes, plus doing away with “all corporate welfare, loopholes, and bailouts,” which she refers to as “socialism for the very rich.”
While there were many chants of “run, Sarah, run” from the enthusiastic crowd, Palin gave no indication of her intentions.
She’ll have to decide soon – before the end of September in order to begin meeting filing deadlines, organize campaign and fundraising staffs, and prep for candidates’ debates, where the questions won’t just be softballs from her Fox News colleagues and the answers will have to be more than brief Twitter feeds.
In the three years since John McCain plucked her from relative political obscurity to be his vice presidential running mate, Palin has earned an estimated $9 million on her book and reality TV show. She’s paid $1 million a year as a Fox News contributor. And SarahPAC has raised some $7 million to pay for her travel, staff, and contributions to the campaigns of others.
But as Doyle McManus of the Los Angeles Times points out: “As a private citizen, Palin doesn't have to disclose any of her personal income … But as a presidential candidate, she'd be under pressure to disclose more financial details, and she'd presumably have to give up charging for her speeches and her appearances on Fox News.”
Then there’s her standing in the polls, which can’t be particularly encouraging.
“All in all, most voters – 74 percent – think Palin should stay on the sidelines in 2012. Just 20 percent think she should run for president,” Fox News reported on its own recent polling. “The groups most likely to support Palin running are white evangelical Christians (30 percent) and Tea Party members (28 percent). Still, majorities of those groups do not think she should run (62 percent and 66 percent respectively). In addition, 72 percent of conservatives, 71 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents think Palin should stay out.”
But you wouldn’t have known that from her appearance before the tea party folks in Iowa Saturday, most of whom stayed around for more than an hour to shake her hand or get an autograph.
Did we mention that the event was held at the National Balloon Classic Field? Depending on one’s point of view, it was the perfect place for rising expectations … or hot air.