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Geoffrey Dunn

Geoffrey Dunn

Posted March 12, 2009 | 06:31 PM (EST)

Pandering for Palin: SarahPAC Makes First Sales Pitch


My late father, a curmudgeonly Montana cowboy, used to say about snow: "It's always muddied and dirty around your house; out there on the horizon, it's pure and white."

So it would seem for Sarah Palin's presidential ambitions.

While personal and political controversies are muddying up her political agenda in Alaska, the distant horizon of national politics looms ever so pristine--and inviting. Just this week, the Alaska legislature essentially nixed Palin's 2009 legislative priorities, while her national political action committee, SarahPAC, made its first national email pitch yesterday, touting Palin's accomplishments in the Last Frontier.

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And it came with a surprise announcement: "Governor Palin will soon be traveling the country and working to support leaders who share [Palin's] vision."

That might come as news to Alaskan voters, who expect Palin to be focusing on statewide issues as she prepares to run for re-election as governor next year. But according to Palin's spokesperson Meg Stapleton, the governor is on her way to Indiana next month and to the hometown of William Seward (and also, coincidentally, of Stapleton), Auburn, New York, in June.

As anyone who's recently watched Palin's uninspired performance in Alaska will tell you, the campaign trail in the Lower 48 was far more exciting for Palin than dealing with cantankerous legislators and the Last Frontier's political gadflies. And after 2008's Cinderella moment, no one expected Palin to stay down on the farm for long.

Someone, of course, is going to have to pay for the Governor's traveling, since she can no longer do it on the state's dime, and that someone would be...

[W]e can't do it without you. Will you join Governor Palin's team and make a contribution so SarahPAC - the official Sarah Palin PAC - can support the Governor's efforts to reform government and help elect leaders who share our conservative values?
Notice the reference to the "official Sarah Palin PAC"--that's because at least two other unauthorized Palin PACs have already started collecting money, too. One, of course, is the notorious right-wing TeamSarah, while the other, 2012 Draft Sarah Committee, made a pitch for dough this week out of Connecticut. (Palins' Facebook page contains only a direct link to SarahPAC, not the others.)


But SarahPAC has also been caught up in some controversy that's gone mostly unreported this week. It's treasurer, Tim Crawford, of Arlington, Virginia, and a longtime conservative operative, was unceremoniously forced out of his position last week as the Republican National Committee's finance director, apparently because of his overt ties to SarahPAC. Moreover, SarahPAC is being coordinated by the conservative Donatelli Group, aka Campaign Solutions, also of Arlington, which raised money for the McCain-Palin ticket in the 2008 race, and to which McCain has been connected since his 2000 presidential bid.

A much more soiled legacy of Campaign Solutions was its role in the "swift boating" of John Kerry in the 2004 presidential contest. It also played a significant role in the behind-the-scenes campaign to secure confirmation of Sam Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Campaign Solutions is run by Becki Donatelli, wife of Frank Donatelli, a well-known conservative uber-lobbyist who currently serves as Deputy Chairman of the Republican National Committee and whose previous clients include Exxon-Mobile. He also served as adviser to several Republican bigwigs, including Reagan, Dole, and Bush Sr. Perhaps most significantly, Donatelli assisted James Baker in the 2000 Florida recount on behalf of the Bush-Cheney team.

This is mainstream Republican muscle. We're talking real dye-in-the-wool "Washington insiders." And Palin is clearly jockeying for position in 2012.

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If anyone is wondering what issue Palin intends to run on, you can bet your bottom dollar it's going to be "conservative values." That was the phrase that polled biggest for Palin among Republicans (it certainly wasn't her expertise on the domestic economy or foreign policy), but when it comes to the cultural wars, Palin is the Annie Oakley of the evangelical right. Think bright red meat.

As Washington, D.C., partisans continue to fight and bicker over "politics as usual," Governor Sarah Palin is working every day to reform government in Alaska and fight for the conservative values we all cherish.
The SarahPAC email triumphed Palin's recent photo-op jaunt to the Alaskan bush with Franklin Graham, on which she delivered supplies to Alaskan natives and championed the activities of faith-based organizations like Graham's Samaritan's Purse.
As you can see, Governor Palin is working each day in Alaska. Her bold actions have helped thousands across the state and is the example of strong, conservative leadership needed throughout the country.

That might come as a surprise to Alaska's native populations, whose pleas for assistance went virtually unheeded by Palin until Graham's faith-based crew showed up for the cameras. (A harsh critique of Palin's policies toward Native Alaskans appeared in the superb Alaskan web site The Mudflats).

But Palin is clearly looking beyond the confines of Alaskan politics towards something bigger in the future:

Thank you for being a part of our team. Governor Palin believes our brightest days are ahead and she is honored to have you by her side.
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