How rogue will Sarah Palin go?

The book-touring ex-governor seems to entertain the idea of a third-party run

By Gabriel Winant
December 8, 2009 8:01PM (UTC)
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There are, let's agree, a lot of things that keep our attention on Sarah Palin. One of them is the way she's constantly refusing to participate in the relatively innocuous rituals of being a big-league politician. If someone asks a conservative politician what she reads regularly, for example, the appropriate response isn't to go blank and then spend a year being defensive about it. Just say "the Wall Street Journal" and be done with it. But Palin never has done things the easy way.

Likewise, third-party candidacies are something that all presidential candidates who enjoy fervent national bases of support and face establishment hostility get asked about. Howard Dean was asked; so was Ron Paul. The strategic -- and hence, standard -- thing to do in this scenario is to say no. Entertaining the idea of running as an independent is generally lethal to a candidate's chances within his or her own party, and third-party candidacies themselves rarely get too far. There's a reason that Dean and Paul both refused to run as independents.


Last Friday, Sarah Palin gave an interview to conservative radio host Lars Larson, and he popped the question. Her response? "That depends on how things go in the next couple of years." Larson, perhaps a bit surprised, said, "That sounds like a yes." Palin elaborated, "If the Republican party gets back to that [conservative] base, I think our party is going to be stronger and there's not going to be a need for a third party, but I'll play that by ear in these coming months, coming years."

(Tip of the hat to Taegan Goddard.)

Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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