Stories like this are why it’s difficult to dismiss Sarah Palin. Her talent for molding media narratives is so brilliant and unforced that it’s hard to believe she hasn’t been a national political figure for decades.
Palin’s press-heavy tour across the northeast has now made a stop, as expected, in New Hampshire, just in time to rain on Mitt Romney’s big campaign rollout in the state yesterday. Of course, Palin says that the timing is just a funny coincidence. And she took the opportunity to launch some good-natured barbs at the former Massachusetts governor’s position on health care. As Kasie Hunt reported at Politico:
Appealing to tea party will be “a big challenge for him,” Palin said Thursday. “Tea party activists are pretty strident in a good way,” Palin said, explaining that they will want “to make sure that we’re not going to have any excuses or perceived political reasons to grow government, because we can’t afford it.”
When asked whether her stop in New Hampshire was meant to coincide with Romney’s big announcement, Palin said that this was “never was a consideration at all. In fact, if he personally would be offended by our stepping foot in a state that he is in, I wouldn’t do it. But I don’t believe that Governor Romney is offended at all.”
“Maybe we’ll run into him,” she added.
The situation poses an awkward problem for Romney. While Palin can criticize him as much as she wants, he would risk angering grassroots conservatives if he responds too harshly. And since Palin hasn’t announced her presidential candidacy and is technically still a pundit, she can frame her swipes at Romney as constructive criticism or political analysis.
This is even more of a reason for Palin to avoid entering the race. She will remain a media star even if she isn’t a candidate, although she may fear that once she declines to run the cameras will no longer be focused on her face. She could probably do more for her the causes she believes in by supporting (or opposing) candidates from the sidelines.