Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Is Sarah Palin front-runner in Iowa in 2012

While being careful to tell us up front that he thinks the premise of the question is more than a bit shaky, Republican David Oman, a key figure in the last two GOP gubernatorial administrations in Iowa, says Sarah Palin has the makings of a presidential front-runner in the Iowa caucuses in 2012.

"The retail nature of caucus politics would play to one of Governor Palin's strength - an energetic personality," he says.

There is speculation that the Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate - who distanced herself from McCain in some areas - is well-positioned for Iowa in 2012.

Whether she would make a competent president is a different thing altogether - and a seriously debatable point in 2008.

The fact remains that in the universe of Republicans, she is the only star with any true shine - although a meteoric rise from another little-known candidate can't be ruled out over the next few years. And depending on economic fortunes, Iowa Republicans, who for months flirted with Mitt Romney, may be ready for a known candidate with some burnished business credentials.

Of all the candidates in the scrum for 2012 (assuming John McCain loses) Palin would have the most appeal with the people that matter in the Iowa caucuses.

She has all the assets that can't be taught - the charisma (at least the sort that appeals to the Christian right) and stump-speaking skills.

Iowa is a state of small towns, and people in these communities increasingly see divisions based in rural-urban terms more than anything as modernity is literally swallowing once-thriving farm towns.

Her small-towns-folks-are-better-Americans speech is a brilliant appetizer for Iowa 2012. Palin speaks to a key population (in terms of voting) of small towns in the same way Barack Obama appeals to certain constituencies - including rural folk (as the Iowa caucuses proved).

Moreover, the life of Iowa communities is the family. The Hawkeye State, and in particular its rural parts, is not a friendly places for single people - unless they are widowed in nursing homes. Palin's appeal to those who want to see their candidates as they would like to see themselves - with kids and family in full bloom - is unrivaled. Keep this in mind: Iowa is a state in which many families own more than one crockpot. It doesn't get more family values than crockpots.

Additionally, Palin's punched the victim card. One doesn't need clairvoyance to hear her speeches in Le Mars, Iowa, on a fall night in 2011. I'm guessing it might sound something like this:

"Well, the New York Times and their liberal friends may not like this mom, but the last time I checked those elites are too busy blogging and jumping from one failed relationship to another to have any kids of their own. Are we going to allow the coastal elites who stopped having kids to run the nation? We small-town moms should decide the future because we're the only ones who will have kids in the future."

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