A feature-length film premiering next month in Iowa is not designed to launch Sarah Palin's presidential campaign, one of her aides told National Journal on Wednesday.
Although Palin cooperated with director Stephen Bannon, who bought the audio rights to Palin's 2009 best-selling memoir Going Rogue, the film he produced, The Undefeated, is "independent of us," said Tim Crawford, treasurer for SarahPAC.
Speculation about the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee's presidential intentions is intensifying on reports in the Arizona media that she's purchased a home in that battleground state. Palin's camp wouldn't discuss the reports, but as for her White House ambitions, Crawford indicated that an announcement is still months away. But he conceded that The Undefeated will likely help any effort Palin might launch: “It’s a great film that will accurately tell her record while she was governor of Alaska,” he said.
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Even so, the planned June debut of a pro-Palin flick has set off speculation that she’s preparing a campaign rollout in a state where fellow tea party darling, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., also appears to be prepping for a presidential debut.
It “seems to be a nuclear strike to preempt Michele Bachmann, who’s [Palin’s] biggest threat,” said Steffen Schmidt, an Iowa State University political scientist. Bachmann, who was born in Iowa, has said she will announce a decision about entering the presidential race in June, but Schmidt said the Palin production may alter her timetable.
“Bachmann is probably not going to want to wait [to announce] until after this movie comes out,” Schmidt continued, “because a lot of conservatives will flock to what’s bound to be a complete whitewash of Sarah Palin that makes her look like she can walk on water. And then Michele Bachmann is sitting there looking pretty silly, because no one’s bothered to make a movie about her.”
The two women, who share a similar conservative constituency, seem to have been playing a cat-and-mouse game in recent days. Hours after word about the Palin movie, first reported by Real Clear Politics, raced through social media sites on Wednesday, Bachmann sent a fundraising e-mail to supporters asking them to donate to a 24-hour “money bomb” campaign that would help “make Barack Obama a one-term president.” Last week, the day after Bachmann grew less coy about her presidential intentions, Palin showed up on several Fox News shows to say she's still "seriously considering" a presidential bid.
Schmidt said Palin's entrance into the race could be the kiss of death for Bachmann. “Even though they seem similar, they are in many respects very different,” he said. “Palin was a vice presidential candidate, and I would imagine she’s raising a lot more money with all her enterprises and TV shows, so she has deeper pockets there. I think if she wants to get in, she’ll be able to choke off the oxygen on Michele Bachmann.”
Casey Mills, spokesman for the Iowa GOP, suggested otherwise. Bachmann, a seventh-generation Iowan who would rely heavily on the state’s evangelical constituency should she decide to run, “has been here, spent time here—she’s headlining an event in Des Moines tomorrow,” Mills said. “Palin would have to take more formal steps toward organizing … because the caucuses are a retail state. Irrespective of name recognition or anything else, people want to ask tough questions directly.”
But Palin’s camp points to the extent of her celebrity, which enables her to draw press attention without seeking it. “I would love the day when I wake up or go a whole day without requests from [reporters], but that’s never gonna happen," Crawford said. "Most campaign workers get up in the morning and say, 'How do I get [my candidate’s] name out there?' "
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