DES MOINES — Sarah Palin may have been fielding calls from the GOP contenders since she decided not to enter the GOP primary in October, but according to her advisers and those with access to her she is staying mum on who she will get behind.
“She remains tightlipped about whether she will endorse a Republican candidate and if she will, who it will be,” according to an insider with knowledge of the inner workings of SarahPAC. “She has not even informed her close staff about whether she is going to make an endorsement, who it will be, or how it will be made.”
However, another source close to SarahPAC says that it does appear she may be leaning towards Newt Gingrich.
Similar to when she was mulling whether to enter the race herself or not, she is keeping her staff on their toes, and even they don’t know when she will make up her mind.
Another Palin advisor said she is not as much focused on who and when she will endorse one of the GOP contenders as trying to push a message of reforming government.
“I think her principal focus is on crony capitalism and the permanent political class,” the advisor said repeating the phrases Palin uses in her speeches and in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. “She’s very passionate about this.”
The advisor noted that none of the current crop of GOP candidates are discussing these specific issues: “If you look at the Republican field, no one is picking this up as a topic … They are not addressing this.”
This same focus is what could make an endorsement difficult for Palin. Newt Gingrich was first elected to Congress in 1978 making it hard for him to shake the Washington insider label, and reports the former speaker of the House received millions in consulting fees from Freddie Mac or his health care consultancy could be too much “crony capitalism” for Palin and her loyal supporters.
Other options have similar problems, though. Rick Perry is the longest serving governor, running Texas for the last ten years, which Palin may see as the “permanent political class” she decries. He has also dodged calls that he rewarded supporters with plumb positions in the past. Although, Palin and Perry did have a friendship, and she campaigned with him in his 2010 primary against Kay Bailey Hutchison.
If she goes with Mitt Romney, her conservative supporters may feel as though she is abandoning what they have been fighting for alongside her since she was selected to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008. Herman Cain fits the outsider profile that she would be drawn to, but his recent struggles would make that an unlikely choice.
However, those same Palin supporters which any of the Republican candidates would want just aren’t ready to move on yet – or at least some of them. Despite being just 33 days from the Iowa caucuses, for some of Palin’s most ardent supporters the dream is not dead. On Wednesday in Iowa, Palin’s most passionate backers put up a television ad urging the former Alaska governor to reconsider her decision not to enter the race.
Conservatives4Palin, an online group devoted to defending and promoting Palin, put down $6,500 for an ad buy to run in the Sioux City market on the local ABC station there.
The ad, titled “The Challenge,” shows video of past Palin speeches and closes with text that reads, “Run Sarah Run.”
Ian Lazaran, one of Palin’s most devoted backers who also writes for and helps to run Conservatives4Palin, told ABC News the ad “is all we intend to do at the moment.”
Lazaran is his online handle, not his real name.
He said the group chose Iowa because it is “one of the few early states where she could actually still participate in because there are no deadlines for participating in the Iowa caucuses.” He said Sioux City was chosen because the western part of the state is a more conservative area.
Lazaran says he and her other online supporters understand that Palin reconsidering is a “long shot.” Other states that would be important for Palin to participate in if she would enter the race, like South Carolina and New Hampshire, have already had their qualifying deadline to get on to the ballot passed. Florida’s deadline is actually on the day of the Iowa caucuses, January 3.
However, those deadlines are not stopping them from trying.
“I think every Palin supporter respects her decision, but there has been such a void left in the field because of the changed circumstances since she made that decision,” Lazaran said. “The void in the field is for a conservative outsider and reformer with executive experience and there’s no other candidate that fills that void.”
Lazaran said it’s not just a gesture of support and instead the “point of the ad is to encourage her into getting in the race,” but added they will “support her either way.”
“She fits that profile while the other candidates do not. The conservative candidates don’t have executive experience and the candidates with executive experience aren’t conservative. She’s the only one that combines them both,” Lazaran explained.
Lazaran said they haven’t heard anything from Palin or her staff, but they “hope she will recognize the circumstances have changed.”
Although her most loyal followers may be hanging on to the hope Palin may change her mind, Lazaran said if she does endorse one of the GOP candidates most of her supporters will jump on board.
“I think most of her supporters will get behind who she endorses. I think most of her supporters value her judgment and they will come to the conclusion that she arrived at the correct judgment with respect to who she endorses,” Lazaran said, adding that besides Palin he doesn’t have a preference. “Most [supporters] will be prepared to support who she endorses.”
It would help any of the GOP candidates with the conservative base of the party just weeks before voting begins. It’s never clear how influential endorsements truly are, but Palin has a built-in passionate base that could also work hard for whoever they get behind, especially if they do it in a group.
This is the first ad Conservatives4Palin has put out and Lazaran said there will probably not be more television ads, but the group will continue to promote causes Palin believes in.