What could the billionaire and the former governor possibly have to talk about at their reported dinner meeting? A list of suggestions.
Sarah Palin reached out to Donald Trump for a Tuesday-night dinner meeting in New York City, ABC News's Michael Falcone reported. On some levels, the meeting makes perfect sense. Both are favored by certain tea-partyish segments of the right; both have attacked President Obama as aggressively as anyone; both have polled over 10 percent in national Republican presidential primary surveys; both have managed to blur the line between politics and cultural iconography; both are reality TV stars.
But beyond those surface similarities, what might Sarah Palin and Donald Trump actually have to say to one another in Trump's penthouse suite at Trump Tower? A few possibilities:
- "Thanks for the Ratings Bump." Trump's exit from the presidential field has helped Sarah Palin decidedly in early 2012 polls. At this point, polls don't mean much -- they probably reflect name-recognition as much as bona fide White House prospects -- but Trump's appeal clearly overlapped with Palin's. Case in point: Before Trump arrived on the 2012 scene in early February, a late-January CNN poll showed Palin ranking second with 19 percent. By May 1, Trump had supplanted Palin in second, and Palin had fallen to fourth with 11 percent, according to the next CNN poll released. Now that Trump is out, CNN shows Palin back in second (not counting Rudy Giuliani) with 15 percent.
- "Be My Vice President?" Probably not. It's hard to imagine Donald Trump working for anyone, and it's unlikely he'll run for vice president on anyone's ticket. When he announced he wouldn't run for president, he explained that business is his primary passion. From the statement he released to ABC News: "I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector."
- "How About an Endorsement?" This one's more likely. As we learned from Trump's immediate impact on Republican presidential politics, people listen to what he says. Returning again to his 2012 exit statement, Trump made it clear he will endorse someone: "I look forward to supporting the candidate who is the most qualified to help us tackle our country's most important issues and am hopeful that, when this person emerges, he or she will have the courage to take on the challenges of the Office and be the agent of change that this country so desperately needs." It's reasonable to think the notion of endorsement would at least come up.
- "Come on 'Celebrity Apprentice' Sometime." Having already appeared in "Sarah Palin's Alaska," the reality show on TLC, Palin has reality-TV experience under her belt. Conventional wisdom says she'd boost Trump's ratings, but, as Joshua Green has pointed out, "Celebrity Apprentice" has the most Democratic audience in primetime TV -- and they might not appreciate firebrand conservative politics. The timing wouldn't work out for Palin next season, anyway, as the show begins in early March. That's prime campaigning time in a presidential-election year, both for candidates and major political figures planning an endorsement or actively campaigning for candidates they support. If Palin is running, the season will start a little more than a month after the Iowa caucuses. Plus, she's probably not quite ready to delve into Rod Blagojevich territory.
- "Please Give Me Some Money." If Palin runs for president, she'll need all the cash she can get, with rival Mitt Romney pulling in over $10 million in one day two weeks ago. Will she ask The Donald to open his checkbook? Trump hasn't given a ton of political donations in the modern campaign-finance-disclosure era: Since 1998, he's donated a total of $166,900 to political groups and campaigns, according to Federal Election Commission records. And he's given a lot of that money to Democrats. But if he were to endorse Palin at any point, he would likely donate to her campaign -- and he may be freer to help her this year. Independent, soft-money groups are expected to play a bigger role in 2012 than they have in any other presidential election, with Democrats launching their own initiatives to combat the success of GOP groups like American Crossroads. After a series of court rulings and regulatory decisions that included the landmark Citizens United case, everyone has been emboldened to use corporate, union, and uncapped individual donations to influence federal elections. We have yet to see soft-money groups emerge to promote individual candidates in the Republican presidential primary, but, hey, it's possible. Trump gave his largest post-1998 donation in October of last year -- $50,000 to American Crossroads -- and given the newfound urgency of his concern over America's direction, he might dip deeper into his money bin in 2011..
- "The Shocks on This Bus Are Terrible. Can I Use Your Jet to Fly to Iowa?" Sarah Palin has been cruising around the East Coast, visiting various historical sites. Trump has a plane. It might make sense for her to bring this up, but, again, it's not likely. If Trump were to let Palin use his corporate plane, messy campaign-finance problems would ensue. It would count as a corporate donation, and Palin can't legally use corporate donations to use to explore the possibility of running for president.If Trump lent her a plane he owns privately, the cost of the flight (including fuel, runway time, whatever the pilot gets paid, etc.) would have to be less than $5,000. Which, presumably, could be done, if it's worth any PR hassle that may ensue.