Palin 2012: Crafty or Chaotic?

The drama surrounding Palin's Saturday rally in Iowa could hurt a potential run

ByABC News
August 31, 2011, 6:40 PM

Aug 31, 2011— -- Sarah Palin's latest drama, Will She or Won't She Pull Out of Saturday's Tea Party Rally in Iowa, could cause whiplash for those watching her closely. But taking a step back from the chaos and finger-pointing, the real question is: If she does decide to get into the race, could drama like this prevent her from running a presidential campaign?

"If she is running for president, she needs a team of advisors and people that will put on events that will have her best interests in mind," said Craig Robinson, former political director of the Iowa Republican Party. "A lot of what went on today and yesterday, Palin's best interest wasn't in mind when making decisions about the events. She needs her own political team around her."

"What went on today and yesterday" includes Palin's team putting "on hold" an event that it signed on to in July-- this coming Saturday's Tea Party of America Rally in Indianola, Iowa, with Palin as featured speaker. That's according to Tea Party of America founder Ken Crow, who told ABC News that Palin's team was upset at a Wall Street Journal report that Palin was opting out of the event, although that report came out around the same time several other media outlets reported that the event was, rather, on hold.

A source close to SarahPAC said Palin's team was upset by how Tea Party of America organizers hyped the event; Tea Party of America, they believed, was trying to promote the event based on the chance Palin would announce her campaign intentions at the Saturday rally.

(It's worth noting here that in Palin's Iowa video released earlier this month she ended what looked like a campaign commercial with the phrase, "See you again September 3rd." )

Still with us? This is where Christine O'Donnell , the Delaware tea party darling, enters the picture.

According to rally organizers, O'Donnell reached out to the Tea Party of America and asked to speak. Crow agreed, and on Monday she was invited to speak. Crow said that almost immediately, the group received negative e-mails and at that point "panicked" and decided to rescind the invitation. (They added that O'Donnell's team was "less than truthful" about her current relationship with Palin, implying it was closer than it actually is.) On Tuesday, Crow said he decided to re-invite O'Donnell because "it was the right thing to do and we made a mistake." O'Donnell tweeted that she "humbly re-accepted the re-invitation" to speak.

But then that offer was rescinded. And Palin's team confirmed the former Alaska governor was indeed back on board.

Is this any way to run a campaign?

Palin said on her bus tour in May that her campaign would be both "untraditional" and "unconventional." Much of that means relying on a significant grassroots volunteer effort being built all over the country, mostly by a group called Organize4Palin. They are a passionate group of volunteers, but not part of the SarahPAC team, nor are they given orders by Palin's staff.

Palin does not have any hired staff on the ground in the early states and over Labor Day weekend is relying on two separate groups to plan her events for her: the Tea Party of America, in Iowa, and the Tea Party Express, in New Hampshire.

Robinson has closely watched her movements in Iowa and says Palin "cannot rely on anybody else" to build her campaign organization.