Sarah Palin is not running for president, and as such, I've been trying to give more space to those who have taken on the burdensome task of mounting a presidential campaign. But it hasn't escaped my attention that from time to time, she pops up, suggests that there's still time to get into the race, and then vanishes back behind her social media wall, leaving people to speculate on what she might do. Well, earlier this week, she did that again, but at this point, she's running out of time to keep up this act.
This all begins with one of Palin's periodic appearances on Sean Hannity's eponymous prime-time Fox News show, during which she floated the idea that she may yet jump in the race. (She also suggested that someone on the Democratic side might jump in as well. For the record, this is highly unlikely.)
There is still time, Sean, and I think on both sides of the aisle you’re going to see people coming and going from this race,” she said. “In the Republican race, in this primary, I think people are still going to be coming and going because there is still time. And I’m still one of those still considering the time factor.”
Hannity asked if her if she didn't need to make a decision by November.
Her response: "You do, legally you do, because you have start getting your ducks lined up to have your name on these ballots."
She added: "This is going to be such an unconventional election cycle. ... Mark my word, it is going to be an unconventional type of election process.”
This may prove to be an "unconventional election," but it won't be so unconventional that South Carolina is going to permit anyone to apply to be on the ballot according to the imposed deadline. And in this case, "by November" means November 1, 2011. The good news is that Palin understands this. The better news, from Palin's perspective, is that South Carolina doesn't require the campaign to gather signatures. At this point, you pay the $35,000 filing fee and you're set to go. But every state is different. Palin could say she wants to be in the Iowa Caucus on the day before and she's in. Alabama requires ten grand and five hundred signatures. The filing deadlines of various states range from November of this year to March of the next.
Sure seems like a lot to keep track of, doesn't it? That's another reason the Palin is behind the 8-Ball on this -- she hasn't set up any sort of organization yet. And for that reason, the folks at First Read are pretty skeptical about all this casual talk of her jumping into the race:
There’s still time for her and any other U.S.-born citizen who’s 35 or older to run for president. And with Bachmann’s poll numbers collapsing, there is some space for a Palin candidacy. But with likely less than four months until Iowa -- that’s right, folks, FOUR months -- there isn’t much time to raise the money, demonstrate the heft on the issues, and to rehabilitate her image to be a serious player for the Republican nomination.
Consider this: Rick Perry is the latest entry into the race and he's managed to begin his campaign quite well, getting to the top of primary polls almost immediately upon arrival. But with all of his success, his campaign is having to cope with the late start, which Ben Smith notes has manifested itself in both "the frantic organizational and fundraising catch-up" his campaign is having to endure and his overall preparation: "He's had no time to sharpen his answers, or bone up on policy. And it keeps showing."
Perry has offset these deficits with his frontrunner status and bought himself time to assemble an organization by teasing his entrance into the race long before officially declaring his candidacy. He's where he is now thanks to about a month and a half of work. Palin, starting from near-scratch, has a month and eight days.
It's a tough chore, and if we're all being realistic, one she's probably already past the point of actually undertaking. I'd give pretty good odds that she'll keep teasing right up until Halloween, but the sun is starting to set on the rest of us having to take this seriously.
Earlier, Sarah Palin on Fox News from 9/20: