When ABC blitzed inboxes Wednesday night with a headline-- "Sarah Palin Vows to Remain Player in 2012: 'Not Doing This For Naught'" -- that suggested the Alaska Governor would be a candidate for the Republican presidential ticket in 2012, it was a reporter's dream come true. Even esteemed CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer took the quote to mean that Palin was openly stating she would run:
The fact that ABC had to rescind that headline and replace it with the less-exciting "Sarah Palin: 'Not Doing This For Naught'" shows how news organizations are swimming like sharks to keep Palin in the spotlight. Palin could have been saying she would stick around for 2012. But the quote was more of a reflection of a desire to keep swinging at her critics.
Palin has been a bonanza for the press since she shook up the two-horse race at the end of August. She's added scandal, sex appeal, gaffes and rabid Republicans to the mix. Now, as it seems increasingly likely that there won't be any reason to report on Palin in five days, the press is looking for ways to extend its pot of gold.
This isn't to say that Palin hasn't contributed to speculation that she'll be sticking around. Over the past week, a combination of her comments and reports that she is ignoring John McCain's top aides' advice, have prompted many a reporter to write about a "Palin 2012" ticket. Yet these same journalists have written numerous articles referencing Republicans who say Palin has no business being a heartbeat away from the Presidency.
One way to reconcile that split is to look at Palin's presumed relationship with conservative voters. Yes, she's managed to lose conservative pundits like The New York Times' David Brooks and Kathleen Parker, but there remains a belief among media outlets that Palin still has a strong pull on conservative voters. Perhaps former Bush-Cheney campaign strategist Matthew Dowd summed it up best when he said, "She's vastly unpopular among moderate and independent voters, and while she could be in a position to be popular among an increasingly smaller Republican Party, she's got to figure out a way to extend that and figure out a way to strengthen her weaknesses."
But at the moment, Palin's chances for 2012 seem to be dwindling before they had a chance to become a reality. She appears to be dividing the party, not uniting it behind her. CNN is reporting today that there's a "civil war that is simmering will break out into the open if McCain loses," with Palin at the center.