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Thursday, July 8, 2010

With video, Palin goes pro

It was nothing more than a two-minute self-promotional spot, a campaign-style production that any candidate with a little cash and a capable consultant could splice together, yet Sarah Palin’s newly-released video managed to drive cable news television chatter and blazed across the blogosphere Thursday.

It was a remarkable display of force—and one that almost no one else in American political life can replicate.

The spot, scored with upbeat music designed to underscore Palin’s message of conservative female empowerment and the idea of a grassroots awakening, may not be enough to rehabilitate her polarizing profile in time for a 2012 presidential bid.

But the effect reinforced the notion that she remains perhaps the most electric force in the Republican Party, and suggested she is taking steps to professionalize her approach and solidify her role as the conservative movement's most prized endorser and fundraiser.

The slick web video marked a departure for Palin, who until now has primarily relied on a small group of advisers and pursued a mostly ad hoc political approach since her resignation as governor. She delivers the occasional speech and sometimes lectures the media via Twitter and Facebook — tactics which play well with some on the right but which are out of sync with the global profile she enjoys.

But in recent months, by lending her support to a group of successful female Republican candidates, the former Alaska governor has established herself as a GOP political queenmaker. And with Thursday’s video, she moved to cement her image as the country's leader of conservative women, leading a stampede of "pink elephants."

All of it seems to indicate a level of strategic thinking among her and her small inner circle that hasn’t always been apparent.

Her endorsements so far this year reflect a politician less hellbent on ideological purity as she's typically portrayed. In important races such as the Iowa gubernatorial contest and the California Senate campaign, Palin has endorsed mainstream Republicans over more conservative candidates.

Further, she's sought a voice in recent policy debates. She used a high-profile appearance at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans to deliver an energy speech. Last month she delivered an address on defense spending at an event in the military-rich Hampton Roads region of Virginia.

The video, which is light on substance and marked by a folksy approach that won’t diminish questions about her gravitas, shows that Palin still has major challenges as a national politician.

Yet it also reflects how she has built a powerful platform in the Republican Party by doing things in her own unique way. Her lack of cross-over appeal may ultimately limit her political prospects, but at the moment she's already got more influence than almost any other politician on the national scene.

"She is speaking to other women like her — and there are a lot of them," said GOP strategist Alex Castellanos. "For years, people said the first female president would be a Republican. What if the most powerful political leader in the women's movement that has evolved is Sarah Palin?”

Palin recognizes the power she wields, and explained to POLITICO in a statement that “sending my own message, minus the media filter, is a valuable way to remind voters that they have great choices in these upcoming mid-term elections.”

“The tools I'll use, like this energetic video that showcases commonsense Constitutional conservative women, will highlight a significant movement in our nation as we advance ever closer to what will be historic 2010 elections,” Palin said. (continues here at POLITICO)

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