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The truth is that Palin remains the only real first-tier presidential candidate the Republicans have— the only candidate who has been on a national ticket. Should she decide to run an active campaign, she would likely recover a good bit of the ground she has lost, just by repositioning herself as a real politician and abandoning her current incarnation as a reality TV star. It’s still not too late for her to give a series of serious policy speeches; not too late for her to put together a real campaign staff; not too late for her to crisscross Iowa and New Hampshire; and not too late, certainly, for her to raise tons of money for a campaign.

To be sure, Palin retains the same drawbacks that she’s had all along, and so far she hasn’t done much to erase them. She’s a first-tier candidate, albeit one with very serious disadvantages, both for the general election and for nomination politics.

But as a first-tier candidate, a late start wouldn’t really be a major disadvantage. It’s not as if she would be Gary Hart in 1988, George McGovern in 1984, or Gene McCarthy in 1972 — a former heavyweight reduced to an object of curiosity. If Palin does wind up entering the race and running an active campaign, she’ll almost certainly be a major player.


The Washington Post: Don’t count Sarah Palin out quite yet By Jonathan Bernstein
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