JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has
authorized a feature-length film about her rise, added staff and
recently said she has "that fire in the belly" for a presidential
bid — all steps that fuel speculation she's inching toward a White
Her supporters are putting together a campaign-in-waiting in
Iowa, the lead-off nominating caucus, in the hopes the Republicans'
2008 vice presidential nominee decides to join the race.
There are even reports she bought a home in Arizona, not far
from her daughter's, which aides have suggested could be a campaign
headquarters if she goes forward.
Clearly Palin will be part of the conversation on Republican
presidential contenders, but it's not certain she wants to be a
candidate. With near-universal name recognition, loyal supporters
and nearly unrivaled fundraising potential, Palin remains the
biggest unknown in the presidential field and could wait longer
than most to answer that question.
Palin is weighing her family's privacy against advice from a
growing circle of political advisers. She rehired two former aides
to help plan her events, suggesting she is ready to travel
extensively again, and shuffled other advisers as she steps up her
"I want to make sure that we have a candidate out there with tea
party principles," she said recently.
That doesn't mean she's rushing to be that person.
Although Palin has made no obvious moves on her own behalf in
early nominating states, California lawyer Peter Singleton has been
meeting with county GOP organizations in Iowa since last winter.
Working with Singleton, a group of Palin supporters has been
building an independent, statewide organization this year at the
ready should Palin decide to run.
"I don't know where Sarah's mind is, I don't think anyone knows
that," said Meg Stapleton, who served as Palin's spokeswoman in the
governor's office and after. "I think at this point in time, it's
only within her heart and her mind and she's keeping it that
The GOP field is starting to set, with candidates making
official their White House plans in recent or coming weeks. None,
however, has truly engaged the party's base, and polls indicate
likely primary voters and caucus-goers are dissatisfied and looking
for other options. Should she run, Palin could fill that hunger and
quickly galvanize a party eager to campaign against President
Barack Obama but uncertain who their best warrior would be.
"I do have that fire in the belly," Palin told Fox News
She hasn't signaled how long that fire might burn, however.
Palin's star power means she might not have to enter the race as
early as the others. A late entry could build excitement for her,
an online fundraising burst could quickly pay for the campaign and
her social media prowess could trump a traditional campaign.
Palin also would come to the 2012 campaign with serious hurdles.
She has a loyal following among conservatives and tea-party
activists, but she remains a divisive figure among the wider
public. Polls show more people have an unfavorable opinion of her
than not, and her abrupt resignation from the governor's office two
years ago is the open question for many Republicans.
Palin supporters hope an upcoming documentary about her rise and
time as Alaska's governor will calm their worries. "The
Undefeated," set to premiere next month in Iowa, is stoking
speculation she wants to reframe how that period is
"This film is a call to action for a campaign like 1976: Reagan
vs. the establishment. Let's have a good old-fashioned brouhaha,"
Stephen Bannon, the filmmaker, said in a statement.
Palin asked an aide to reach out to Bannon about making videos
on her time as Alaska's governor; Bannon wound up making a movie
instead, reported on the website Real Clear Politics, which broke
the news of the film.
Stapleton, the former spokesperson, said she has seen a rough
cut, which she said married interviews with Palin insiders with
media accounts from that time to provide an "accurate portrayal of
News of the film comes as a former member of Palin's inner
circle published a scathing tell-all. Frank Bailey's "Blind
Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years" was
based on tens of thousands of emails he collected. In it, he paints
an unflattering portrait of Palin as someone who wanted to quit the
governorship even earlier than her surprise resignation on the July
4, 2009, holiday weekend.
It also comes amid reports that the family purchased a $1.7
million home in Scottsdale, Ariz., where advisers have suggested a
campaign could be based. Alaska's distance from the lower 48 states
would be a major hurdle should she run, and trips to New Hampshire
would consume entire days if she wanted to get home to spend time
with one of her five children.
Scottsdale is an hour's drive from Maricopa, where Palin's
20-year-old daughter, Bristol, purchased a home.
Palin advisers would not comment on the Arizona properties. The
New York Times, citing two people familiar with the details of the
real estate transaction, said the Palins used a shell company that
hid their identity.
It's not clear, though, whether the Republicans' 2008 vice
presidential nominee, will ultimately decide to join the race. She
commands six-figure sums for her speeches, earns a paycheck as a
Fox News Channel contributor and is a best-selling author.
Should she run, she'd have to give up that income. Should she
lose the primary, she'd give up some of her cache. And it's not as
if she lacks for attention right now.
Whereas other potential candidates struggle for the limelight,
Palin fires off 140-character missives on Twitter to her more than
525,000 followers. Her Facebook page offers her more serious
opinions on the day's news to her almost 3 million supporters.
Ivan Moore, a pollster based in Anchorage, thinks Palin will run
— but for the notoriety, not the job.
"She's achieved what she's achieved in terms of earning money so
far based on a failed vice presidential run," said Moore, who works
for Republicans and Democrats alike. "Imagine what she could do
from a presidential run."
Elliott reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Thomas
Beaumont in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.