US & Canada

Will Sarah Palin run for president?

Sarah Palin campaigning in 2008
Image caption The pundits wonder which way Sarah Palin will go

With Sarah Palin visiting the key state of Iowa on Friday, speculation is mounting that she is preparing the ground to run for president in 2012. Will she?

The Iowa caucuses are the first stop on any Republican or Democrat's road to earning their party's nomination for president.

So the former vice-presidential candidate's attendance at a major Republican fundraising dinner in the state is likely to set tongues wagging.

But what do the pundits think?

Matthew Continetti

Credentials: Author, The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star.

Verdict: She will.

Image caption Some think Mrs Palin, former governor of Alaska, has had presidential ambitions for some time

Pros: I don't think she's made a decision yet, but when you look at some of the moves, the fundraising, endorsements and the political travel it suggests that she is very interested in a presidential [run].

Palin is an impulsive politician. When she looks over the past two years, her interpretation of events suggests this is her moment. Everything up to this point is leading her to run.

She has rejected conventional advice. She did it most recently when she resigned her office [as governor of Alaska] in 2009. Most people declared her political career dead. But she is more influential than ever.

Cons: The main one would be the calculation that she could exert more power over the Republican party as a kingmaker. Also, financial interest would play a part. This is a woman in a family who haven't been wealthy for most of their lives. They came into a great deal of wealth in the last year and they may think they don't want to give it up.

I'm not certain Palin can win. You look at Republican [presidential] primary fights and you tend to have an establishment and an insurgent candidate. The insurgent tends to lose.

One thing Palin has going for her is the grassroots of the party wants new faces. They may desire ideological purity over electoral victory.

If Obama's approval rating continues to fall an elephant would have a chance against him.

David Yepsen

Credentials: Former political editor at Des Moines Register, Iowa. Now director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.

Verdict: Palin yet to decide.

Image caption There are thousands of Tea Party members who want Mrs Palin as president

Pros: I don't know if she is going to run. I don't think she probably knows in her own mind. She is doing things to position herself to run if she wants to. She doesn't have to decide now.

Iowa is where the selection process starts. It sends a signal to the political community that she might be interested, sends a signal to Iowa Republicans that she might be interested.

Her whole travel schedule, her endorsements, she is building up chits all over the country with Republican constituencies.

Cons: She has a lot of financial reasons not to decide now. Once you become a candidate for president, speaking and media gigs go. She has every incentive to keep the buzz going.

She has a steep hill to climb. A lot of people, according to the polls, do not see her as presidential material. She will have to convince a lot of Republican activists.

There is a difference between being a candidate and being a celebrity.

Shushannah Walshe

Credentials: Co-author, Sarah from Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar

Verdict: She will.

Image caption Christine O'Donnell's primary win was a major triumph for Mrs Palin

Pros: She is making more overt strides. She is going to Iowa. With her big win in Delaware [Christine O'Donnell's surprise win in the Republican Senate primary]. These are all chips she's going to cash in when it comes to 2012.

It's more about the kind of person she is. She is the kind of person who reacts to what is in front of her, both good and bad. What is in front of her is supporters all over the country who want her to run.

Cons: She is making a lot of money at what she is doing right now and that would be curbed. Now she can charge a lot for speaking, she has sold a lot of books, she has a contract with Fox. Much of that income would stop.

She really does shy away from any sort of interviews or contact with the press, except Fox. That would change if she ran for president.

That is going to be part of the scrutiny. Her leaving the governorship of Alaska is going to be a very hard mountain to climb. People will say running the country is harder than being governor of Alaska.

She could get the nomination. She has a lot of support in the early states [places like South Carolina that have early primaries] but after that I think it would be very difficult.

Larry Sabato

Credentials: Founder of Sabato's Crystal Ball and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

Verdict: Palin yet to decide.

Pros: Obviously the victory by Christine O'Donnell, even though a disaster for the Republican Party, tells Palin the GOP base will override the overwhelming feeling against Palin in the leadership.

She can win the nomination. She is clearly in the running for the nomination and she might well win it.

Cons: The [Republican] leadership knows Palin will lose the general election.

Norman Ornstein

Credentials: Research scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Verdict: Impossible to tell. More inclined to believe she will run.

Pros:

Image caption Sarah Palin has had successes and failures in her endorsements

She is clearly preparing the ground work to be able to do it. Just like Newt Gingrich, she's doing it in a way that ensures she gets an enormous amount of attention and makes money.

The one clue out there is the endorsement of Kelly Ayotte, candidate for Senate in New Hampshire [the site of a key early primary]. It is the one place where Palin picked the more moderate candidate over the conservative.

Cons: It is a lot of work to run. The fact that she gave up the governorship of Alaska would suggest she might be averse to a lot of work.

It doesn't appear she has a great aptitude for study.

And what if she runs and loses? It would be a little more damaging to the brand.