Belfast Telegraph

Palin: serious White House hope or just a terrible flirt? Political tease: Sarah Palin

By Jim Dee

Sarah Palin, America's biggest political tease, is apparently close to deciding whether or not to run for president.

But her chief fundraiser thinks there's something that fans could do to convince their dream candidate to throw her hat in the ring: show Sarah some money.

"Someone must save us from this road to European socialism," warned Tim Crawford, Palin's chief fundraiser, in a letter to supporters that also slammed Barack Obama's policies.

The treasurer of the political action committee SarahPAC said that donations would show Palin "she has support" as the Alaskan ponders "one of the most difficult and important decisions of her life".

SarahPAC hasn't exactly been setting the fundraising world on fire. During the first six months of 2011, it raised about $1.7m (£1.1m). By contrast, one Mitt Romney-backing PAC alone hauled in $12m (£7.8m) from just 90 donors during the same period.

In fairness, Romney is a full-fledged candidate. Sarah is still just a flirt. And there are strong signs that most Americans don't want to take their relationship with her any further. A McClatchy-Marist poll released last week showed that 72% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents don't want her to run for the White House.

That bad news came weeks after a poll by her employers at Fox News showed 71% of Republicans want her to stay on the sidelines in 2012.

Grim polling numbers won't likely deter Palin. Having been thrown into the political deep end when John McCain plucked her from obscurity in 2008, she's danced the big stage once and clearly yearns to do so again.

And, however a long shot she may be, she'll never have a better shot at the White House than now.

If she skips 2012, and Obama defies the odds to win re-election, Palin could keep sniping at him from her Fox News perch and thereby potentially keep herself viable for 2016, when there would be no incumbent president running.

But Obama is virtually assured of defeat unless he can pull a sustained economic recovery out of a hat in the next 13 months. Unemployment remains stubbornly north of 9%, and no sitting president has won re-election since Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression with the jobless rate that high.

If Palin sits out 2012 and a Republican wins, when the next presidential cycle rolls around in 2016, she'd face the all-but-impossible task of challenging an incumbent president from her own party. As such, she'd likely delay a White House run until 2020.

And what are the odds of Palin - who ditched her Alaska governorship halfway through her first term in order to cash in on national fame - waiting almost a decade to go for gold?

So why is Palin procrastinating? Firstly, the longer she delays her announcement, the longer she can avoid the full spotlight of the campaign Press pack - a white-hot glare that's already wounded the candidacy of fellow Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann.

A delayed entry strategy also has the benefit of letting declared Republican candidates spend months slinging mud at each other, thereby allowing Palin to take the high road and eventually 'ride to the rescue' of the party.

Whatever she ultimately decides, Palin will undoubtedly keep chasing the lucrative spotlight of national politics.

Since quitting her $125,000 (£81,000) a year job as Alaska's governor in 2009, she's pocketed more than $12m (£7.8m) via book deals, speaking fees and her Fox News commentator's job.

It's a safe bet that the airborne Wolf Slayer of Wasilla will be lockin', loadin' and aiming to shoot down her Republican rivals after declaring her presidential candidacy in the coming weeks.

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