Weigel notes that by "this time in the last presidential cycle, 14 candidates had jumped in". Joyner blames the delay largely on Palin:

Given Palin’s ability to suck all the oxygen out of the room she’s far and away the potential Republican candidate most able to attract media attention other candidates have to be hesitant to commit themselves before gauging her intention.  And, certainly, Palin has no need to rush things, since she already has the name recognition and fundraising ability from the outset.

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