Chris Field
It's on the minds of virtually everyone watching the 2012 GOP presidential field: Is Sarah Palin in or out?

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The storyline has been building since John McCain lost to Obama in 2008. From that moment, Sarah Palin has been courted by the grassroots tea party movement and lampooned by both the Left and the GOP establishment.

Despite being constantly in the media's crosshairs, Palin has managed to keep any thoughts of a 2012 run for the White House under wraps, which ironically has fueled the Palin rumor mill even more.

The the May issue, which is shipping to subscribers now, Townhall's Elisabeth Meinecke and Katie Pavlich take a look at the "Sarah question." Their cover story "Is She In or Out" examines why many believe she should run, her critics' case against her, and whether she can actually win.

The full story is available in the next issue of Townhall Magazine. Here are a few excerpts:



Despite those who have written Palin off as an unserious politician, she has substantial executive experience. During her time as governor, Palin vetoed millions of dollars in spending and put $1 billion of her state's surplus into a "rainy day" fund for Alaska. She made bidding competitive on the natural gas pipeline in Alaska -- which would reach to the 48 contiguous states -- and opened up the process to any company wanting to get involved rather than cutting sweetheart deals with the big three oil companies, as her Republican colleagues had done for years.

Her strong energy policy also would give America an advantage in national security. Democrats and Republicans both criticize America's dependence on foreign oil, and Palin is actually promoting a policy that works: drill in the United States. With gas near $4 per gallon and the unrest in the Middle East, there is a need to have someone in the Oval Office with a strong track record on energy, as well as a commitment to small-government policies in good times and bad. Palin's record couldn't be more different from the incoherent policy coming out of the Obama administration, which has waffled on recent uprisings in Egypt and Libya and pushed alternative forms of energy that are unproven at the expense of American jobs, economic growth and responsible energy sources that actually do work. ...

On social issues, Palin is a reliable pro-life vote. In Alaska, she signed a law that would require parents be notified if their underage child was considering an abortion and gave parents the authority to veto the decision. And when the Alaska Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional, Palin showed a willingness to fight for the law. ...



Policy aside, it also takes money to win elections, and SarahPAC currently sits on a massive war chest of funds. In the 2010 cycle, the PAC spent almost $4.4 million but took in approximately $5.7 million, leaving more than $1 million cash in hand as of Dec. 31. Nearly three-quarters of donations to Palin's PAC are contributions of less than $200, which is similar to Obama's fundraising strategy and success in 2008. ...

Since the failed 2008 GOP ticket, Palin has seen her star rise even further -- both financially and politically. In fact, Palin is so successful that some argue a run for president would be too much of a step down for her, rather than too far of a step up.

"I think the presidency is beneath her," Andrew Breitbart told GQ's Lisa DePaulo. "There's more power in being Oprah Winfrey than in being Barack Obama. It would be my goal for Palin to become Oprah and be the ultimate kingmaker for 20-odd years. Oprah anointed Barack Obama."

Ann Coulter, whose record is decidedly pro-Palin, gave her the highest of Coulter compliments, saying she's jealous of Palin's enemies, while suggesting the former governor look down her nose at a White House run. "I think she could win the nomination," Coulter said during an MSNBC appearance. "But I think it would be a step down for her to run for president. ... She's huge, she has enormous power." ...

The opposition to a Palin presidential run doesn't come from only the Left; Republican elites have been taking shots, too. ... But Palin's track record shows she couldn't care less about gaining Republican establishment support. And that's a good thing if she does decide to run in 2012, because finding allies for Palin among GOP leaders is akin to looking for Jimmy Hoffa's body. ...



So, what does Sarah think about a 2012 run?

Palin told Fox News recently that she's "tempted" to make a 2012 run: "I am still wondering who is going to be out there with a servant's heart, willing to serve the American people for the right reason -- not for ego, not for special interests. ... I'm waiting to see who else is out there who wants to do this." And she said in a New York Times Magazine article at the end of 2010 that her family was the "most important consideration" in the decision. ...

But, like Kipling's cat, Palin will walk by herself when it comes to following a presidential campaign playbook. ...

Meanwhile, conservatives, Republicans and political junkies await her decision.

Order Townhall Magazine today to ensure you get the full Sarah Palin cover story, and much more, in the May issue.

Chris Field

Chris Field is the former Executive Editor of Townhall Magazine.