The Iowa Republican: More than a Movie Debut; Updated

Craig Robinson, the former political director of the Iowa GOP whose comments I referenced in an earlier post, has written a great piece for  the Iowa Republican discussing the implication of Governor Palin’s appearance at the premiere of "The Undefeated" and praising the efforts of Governor Palin’s  hard working  grassroots support (emphasis mine):

When Sarah Palin steps foot in Iowa later today, she’s going to place her toes directly into Iowa’s presidential waters.  While she is here to take part in the premier of a new documentary that showcases her rise in American politics, the rest of the world is looking for any sign that she may enter the 2012 Republican presidential race.

[…]

Rubbing elbows with potential presidential candidates is something Iowans are used to.  We like to get to know the candidates on a personal level, but thus far, there has been no opportunity for regular Iowans to spend time getting to know her.  All of her appearances have either been large speaking events like the Iowa GOP’s Reagan Dinner, or book tour events, where only a limited number of people can participate.

That may change tonight when Palin is expected to mingle with a thousand or so folks from Pella at a cookout after the movie premier.   I once said that I would take Palin seriously as a presidential candidate when she took Iowa seriously.  With her recent knack of showing up in early caucus and primary states on the heels of the high-profile announcements of Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann, I think it’s time to take her seriously.

To many, Palin’s visit to Pella seems too late to signal that she may enter the presidential race.  Even though Palin hasn’t been to Iowa since last November, she’s had an unofficial presence in the state for months now.  Led by Peter Singleton, a California native, a group of Palin supporters have traveled all across the state meeting with county Republican officials and other GOP activists.

Singleton insists that he has no connection to Palin, but one cannot overlook what he and the others who are touting Palin across the state have done for her in Iowa.  Singleton has crisscrossed the state meeting with activists and operatives alike.  I chatted with him months ago and came away impressed.  His understanding of Iowa and the caucus process here is impressive for an outsider.

Even though Sarah Palin doesn’t play by the same rules that seem to govern the rest of the field of Republican candidates, she has developed an extensive ground game in Iowa, even if it’s not being officially coordinated by her or her advisors.  In many ways, I think that Palin is probably more organized in Iowa in terms of grassroots communication than most of the current field.

We don’t know yet if Palin’s visit today is the precursor to a presidential campaign, but if it is, I would not be surprised.  When I stopped at a café in Pella yesterday to interview Congressman Thaddeus McCotter who was driving through town on his way to a Tea Party event in Ottumwa, I noticed in the back of the café working away was the same woman who took such good notes of my conversation a few weeks ago.  Soon thereafter, Singleton walked in, clearly in the midst of helping organize Palin’s visit.

If I’ve learned one thing during my political career, it’s that nothing is a coincidence in politics.  Grassroots organizers, a movie premier, and a visit by Palin herself to Iowa makes this feel more like the start of presidential campaign than just a random visit. Who knows what to expect.  I guess that’s why all the media keeps showing up to wherever she’s at.

Here’s to you, Mr. Robinson, for understanding two things that the majority of the GOP and the media fail to understand. One, Governor Palin has extremely strong and hard working grassroots supporters. Two, Governor Palin does not operate in a traditional political framework; she creates her own framework.

Shane vander Hart at Caffeinated Thoughts, also an Iowan, has these additional comments on Robinson’s article:

I can attest to what Craig is saying, there is rarely an event I go to where Peter Singleton and Organize 4 Palin is not.  I can’t say the same about the other campaigns.  So if she gets in she’ll be able to hit the ground running.  I’m looking forward to seeing her politic at the cook off that will be held after the movie premiere at the Pella Opera House tonight, she will definitely be in her element there.  She has the ability more than any other candidate, I believe, to enter this race late and still be competitive in Iowa.

As an additional note, if you haven’t done so already, please sign up with Organize4Palin to join in supporting Governor Palin on the grassroots level.

H/T Tim and Karen

Update: Robinson also notes that Governor Palin and Todd Palin had lunch today with long time Iowa fundraiser, Becky Beach. See  here for a bit more and pictures.

H/T Dave K



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