Tea Party Groundwork for a Palin '12 Run?


A few months after Sarah Palin's "Mama Grizzly" video spotlighted conservative women candidates across the country, Palin's PAC has released a new video touting the growing strength of the Tea Party movement.

Like the Mama Grizzly video (embedded below), this one is set to music that sounds like a cross between the soundtrack to the most stirring scenes from a World War II movie and The Lion King. Like the Mama Grizzly video, it is narrated by bits and pieces of various Palin speeches touting the righteous anger of everyday people, and shows close-ups of these people at rallies and events, clutching children and brandishing signs. Some of the images are very similar--the packed dome that opens the Tea Party video is the same scene that closes the Mama Grizzly one.

This blog has a general policy against covering political web ads, since they are often crafted for the sole intent of garnering free media coverage online. But like the Mama Grizzlies video, Palin's latest effort holds more significance in that it indicates something about her ambitions and the way she wants to be seen.

Both videos set a mood of historic significance and communal uprising. Yet at their center is one woman, hugging protesters and making speeches and grinning at signs that read, "We Love You Sarah!" Following Palin's speech on Friday to the Iowa Republican Party, in which she touted the Tea Party's inversion of the established GOP order, media chatter is centering on a probable presidential run.

Chris Cillizza at The Fix notes that if Palin does run for president in 2012, "it will be a bid rooted not in the Republican Party but in the tea party movement" -- and that the Tea Party success in this year's primaries would make this a viable strategy:

Now, it's worth noting that the tea party pushing a candidate to a primary victory in small population states like Alaska and Delaware is not the equivalent -- or even close -- to winning a Republican presidential primary fight.

But, with Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- three small states -- slated to once again play a prominent role on the early end of the 2012 nominating fight, there's no reason to entirely dismiss the lessons the 2010 primaries have taught us.      
If Palin does in fact run in 2012, a Tea Party frame would be a risky strategy. Not only might it alienate establishment donors and endorsers (though who knows to what extent the movement and the establishment will merge over the course of the next two years), but Palin would not be the only Tea Party candidate. Virtually every potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate other than Mitt Romney will vie for the Tea Party mantle. And her movement credentials may not be as pure. Palin has backed plenty of Tea Party candidates in 2010, but she's also thrown her weight behind candidates like Carly Fiorina and Terry Branstad, neither of whom are particularly beloved by Tea Partiers nationwide.

For the moment, though, Palin does have the support of Tea Party Express, the influential group that helped catapult Joe Miller and Christine O'Donnell to primary victories. The group, which has teamed up with Palin in numerous elections, emailed its supporters with a link to her new video, calling it "very energetic and uplifting."
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Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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