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Should Sarah Palin Run in 2016?

The Case for a Palin Candidacy for President

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Annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Held in D.C.
T.J. Kirkpatrick/Stringer/Getty Images News/Getty Images

(Editor's note: This is not an endorsement. Leading up to the 2016 presidential nominating contests - which rest assured have already begun - all leading possible contenders will be analyzed from a conservative perspective. We will highlight the major benefits of all possible candidates.)

Democrats claim they would love for Sarah Palin to be the Republican nominee in 2016. They constantly write articles of her "irrelevancy," and mock her and write story, after story, after story about her. Because that's what you do with irrelevant people. Many Republicans are even wary of what her nomination would bring, noting that the media and entertainment industry assault on her has currently destroyed her public image. (Admittedly, the multiple family reality shows might be a self-inflicted wound.) And while they might say she is not electable, both John McCain and Mitt Romney were supposed to be very, very electable. The last Republican elected President was George W. Bush. He was pegged as an idiot. They laughed at his accent. The media set up "gotcha questions" to embarrass him. He was a silly born-again Christian and a right-wing extremist and a war monger. Sound like the media description of someone else? Oh, and he won.

Sarah Palin is Unafraid

If there is one thing about Palin, it is that she is not afraid to go after her opponents. She is tenacious. She would not back down. She would not apologize. She would not have conservatives hopping mad in her refusal to go on offense. McCain and Romney played nice while candidate Obama pounded them into the ground.

Should Hillary Clinton wind up the 2016 Democratic nominee, no nicey-nice candidate will defeat her. One could not have asked for a more reasonable, competent, and qualified nominee than Mitt Romney was in 2012, and it was mostly pointless. The only time Romney surged into the polls was when he methodically dismantled him in the first debate and went on the offensive. He then went on to play it safe in the final two debates - attempting to protect a lead - and the rest was history. Nice guys finish last, unfortunately.

We know the media will not go after Hillary Clinton. Whether conservatives want to admit it or not, both Bill and Hillary remain two of the most popular people in politics. No matter how bad everything might be by the time Obama is finishing his second term, she would be held no more responsible by the media than Obama was in 2012. While the Benghazi episode would have been enough to take any Republican administration down, neither Clinton nor Obama were held even remotely accountable. She will get a free pass, and the only person who can change the narrative is the nominee for president. But that nominee must also be willing to change the narrative. Palin might lose. But a week-kneed and "safe" Republican would be but a sacrificial lamb in the electoral slaughter that would be headed the Republican's way.

The Palin Myth: People Hated Her

Many think a Palin candidacy would be DOA because of her poll numbers. But are those poll numbers a reflection of what people actually have seen of Palin or just a reflection of the portrayal and constant mocking of her over the years? I made the same case for Romney as he was "disliked" in polls by people who had never heard him speak a word. When his poll and favorable poll numbers were low, I reminded people it was a result of both how the media focused on him and the image set by the Obama campaign. But when people actually saw him for the first time in the first debate, a strange thing happened: they liked him. Yep, he was nothing like what voters thought. His favorable numbers rose dramatically, and they were even above 50% by election day. He didn't win, but a lot more people liked him after they actually saw him than when they expressed an opinion based on a caricature of him. The same could be true with Palin. If anything, the caricature of her is so borderline-silly that most people would be shocked to find out she could recite the alphabet. And how many people think she actually said "I can see Russia from my house"? Palin took a beating far worse than any candidate in recent history. Could she reshape her image? While many memories of the 2008 campaign might have been erased, I've noted before that after her 2008 VP acceptance speech, Palin was easily the most popular of the four candidates:
A week after the selection of Palin, the Republicans would hold their nominating convention and Palin delivered a speech for the ages. Her favorable numbers immediately soared. In fact, her favorable numbers at that point were greater than those of Barack Obama. A CNN Poll had Palin's favorable ratings at +30 (Obama was +26), Newsweek had Palin at +30 (Obama at +20), and NBC News had Palin at +20 (Obama +21). The McCain-Palin ticket suddenly led Obama-Biden in 7 polls, tied in 3, and trailed in just 2.

In that speech, she went after Obama big time. She was not friendly. She was incredibly likeable and the public approved. It wasn't until the 2-month media offensive and character assassination (and as just a VP candidate, a relatively small platform with which to respond) did her numbers start to turn. The media set the narrative that she wasn't experienced enough to be vice-president by constantly writing "Does She Have Enough Experience" pieces. Ironically, while those pieces were written about a governor, mayor, and state commissioner about a VP role, they were never asked of her opposing presidential candidate who was a part-time state legislator and freshman US Senator.

Palin is Already Vetted

Finally, Palin is a known commodity. We've seen her at her best and her worst. (And her "worst" is more what others have done to her rather than something she has done to herself.) She is very conservative with a populist stretch. She is inclusive. She reaches out to everyone. She is an effective speaker. The media has already investigated every hair on her head, read every email she ever wrote, and even accidentally discovered she was a good governor after all. One thing with Palin is sure: there is nothing left to be vetted except her ideas. Would Palin be a risky move? Well, how did the last two guys work out for us and who among the Republicans would be a better force to at least try to stomp her opponent the way they will stomp back?

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