Is Sarah Palin Already Running in Iowa?

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Marc Ambinder thinks Sarah Palin plans to run for president in 2012. What makes him think so? The fact that yesterday she endorsed establishment favorite Terry Branstad in the Iowa gubernatorial primary rather than tea party darling Bob Vander Plaats:

[Branstad is] going to be the next governor of Iowa, assuming that there are no stunning surprises next week and Chet Culver, the Democrat, doesn’t mount a miraculous election year comeback….If you’re thinking about running for president, and I think Palin really is thinking about running for president, you don’t get on the wrong side of the guy who will probably be governor during the caucuses by endorsing his opponent, no matter how conservative and Tea Partyish Bob Vander Plaats seems to be.

I don’t know if Palin is planning to run or not, but if she is this is a needle she’s going to have to thread pretty carefully. Her fans love her, but they love her because she’s not part of the establishment. She’s an authentic conservative. But then there’s real life, and in real life you end up allying yourself with people like John McCain and Terry Branstad for purely pragmatic reasons. And there’s the problem. Stay too far on the outside and you lose the ability to raise serious money and put together a serious ground organization. Become too pragmatic and you lose the support of your true believer base. What’s a real American rogue to do?

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