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"Okay here me out on this," Free Republic poster Ocarterma subtitles his forward-looking post on Thursday, which was headlined, "My Gut Tells Me Cain-Palin Ticket Will Happen." Ocarterma says he's "invested" nearly three and a half years into the political future of Sarah Palin. So when she issued a statement Wednesday night saying she wouldn't be running for president, and, in a special thought aimed at "those who have supported me and defended my record throughout the years, and encouraged me to run," argued that "one doesn't need a title to do it," you could imagine that folks like Ocarterma was forced to reconsider things. Ocarterma has been looking at Herman Cain as a second choice on the basis that Palin has too. "I find it curious that about a week or so (maybe a little more) after his awesome showing in the [Florida] straw poll and Sarah calling herself his biggest fan, she should make this announcement. The timing just seem to indicate that she too had finally found 'her guy.'" Fellow Freepers were mostly unconvinced -- "Your gut is wrong" -- but the post got more than 150 responses. For many die-hard Palin fans, her decision doesn't mark the death of their dreams. It only means those their dreams need to be a bit more creative.

Pretty much everyone in the "lamestream" media had concluded well before Wednesday's announcement that a Palin presidential campaign was not going to happen. For her most devoted fans, however, these outsider conclusions -- based on what Palin was actually doing, like embarking on erratic bus tours and not putting together a campaign staff -- actually became evidence that Palin was running. And besides, there were people whose livelihoods were based on Palin the politician. Politico's Ben Smith explains in an excellent piece on the Palin economy, that "the thriving cottage industry that grew at her feet... is now in danger." Who knows if Palin's celebrity (and the books and movies and speaking engagements it fuels) will continue now. But in the day since she bowed out of the 2012 race, psychic pain has been spreading among the Palinites. On Fox Wednesday night Palin said, "I am extremely apologetic. I'm sorry for the hurt that some folks are feeling." There are a lot:

  • palinpal1: "Palinistas, This announcement is a huge kick in the gut. Looking on the bright side.....I cannot think of a bright side right now." 
  • Then palinpal1 adds, "I'm in total shock, too. Glad I watch her DVD yesterday. Not sure if I would have have the heart to watch it today." 
  • RedBrightandTrue: "I believed (and still do) that this was her time. There's no one else to vote 'for'." 
  • Deb Heisler: "Shock wearing off, INTENSE PAIN setting in..."
  • Deb again: "I will always respect her. I love her in a way I've never loved another."
  • Later, a bit of hope from Deb: "Still praying that @SarahPalinUSA has a change of heart. Was *positive* I'd meet many of you. *Sigh* I feel as though I'm losing my family." 
But more Palinistas are taking the upbeat, foward-thinking view of Firelight, who tweets, "Palin isn't anyone's cheerleader. Palin is our new coach. Eat your heart out Karl Rove. Palin is the new Architect in town. Watch & learn."  That's what Adam Brickley says at The Daily Caller. Brickley brags that in 2007, he created the very first "Draft Sarah Palin for Vice President" blog, so he's been there from the beginning, okay? Sure, Palinistas were disappointed with the announcement, but "anyone who thinks Gov. Palin or any of us 'cultists' are going to go away has another thing coming -- in fact, a reinvigorated Palin movement is already coalescing." Brickley continues:
The people who would have been the core supporters of a Palin campaign are now the biggest and most powerful bloc of free agents in the 2012 primary ... We're not in the mood to kiss and make up with the party bosses, and no one can afford to take us for granted. If you thought we were going to make your life hell as a campaign, wait until you see what we can do as a pressure group. We've already got a huge presence on the Web thanks to Conservatives4Palin and the rest of the Palin bloggers, and we now have a big grassroots network as well thanks to the hard work of Organize4Palin. Do you really think we're not going to use all of that cool stuff?
What's Organize4Palin? A grassroots group that went about setting up Palin's campaign infrastructure betting that she's run. Peter Singleton, for example, moved from California to Iowa at the start of the year to ready the first voting state for Palin's arrival -- doing the work of political operatives, but for free, as Kevin Hall explains at the Iowa Republican. Now that Palin won't show, Singleton is only a little less chipper than Brickley. He told Hall he's "disappointed for the country, but have no regrets for what I've done." But he's moving back home soon. On the other hand, Richard and Cathy Rogers told Hall they were demoralized. Cathy had taken over organizing Palin's Tea Party rally in Indianola and prevented "complete disaster," Hall explains. Cathy is grim: "I just don't see anybody out there that has the voice that she does." Richard, too: "I wasn't expecting to deal with this tonight, to be honest with you ...  We're not prepared to lay our money down for anybody else ... It's not like we had a strong second choice."
 
For their pals at Coloradans4Palin, there was the tiniest glimmer of hope: "Sarah Palin did promise that this would be an uncovential cycle, and I could easily see a path to the presidency for her on a third party ticket ... She certainly would have a constituency outside the traditional GOP. However, I am under no illusions and I am not holding my breath." At Gay Conservative, Steve Flesher the wait might be even longer: "It took Ronald Reagan 16 years from the time he inspired Americans with his Goldwater speech in 1964 to make it to the White House. Sarah Palin is young enough to make herself the most powerful advocate in the country, a possible Senator someday, or yes, even a possible candidate for the Presidency of the United States."

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