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Sarah Palin: 'I can win' the presidency

July 11, 2011|By James Oliphant | Washington Bureau

Sarah Palin believes she can win the White House. That’s what she says in a new magazine article out Monday.

Newsweek has an in-depth article on the former Alaska governor and possible presidential candidate, complete with an evocative cover photo with the proclamation “I can win.”

The article, which revisits Palin’s political career in Alaska in some detail, appears to be part of a strategy in Palin’s close-knit camp to frame the potential contender within her more populist, independent political roots, as opposed to her more recent fire-breathing, Mama Grizzly, Christian conservative persona.

To that end, the article runs in sync with the national premiere of “The Undefeated,” the documentary that examines her career from a pro-Palin perspective. It opens in select cities July 15.

“I believe that I can win a national election," Palin said while interviewed in Iowa, where she attended a screening of the film. "I’m not so egotistical as to believe that it has to be me, or it can only be me, to turn things around. But I do believe that I can win."

But, she hedges in the article, she still hasn’t made up her mind, despite the assertions of her celebrity daughter, Bristol. Her husband, Todd, says he’ll support a run.

Of course, Palin has seen her own celebrity grow to epic heights. The Newsweek article online is accompanied by a striking photo gallery that would not have been out of place in Tina Brown’s old publication, Vanity Fair. And it illustrates, yet again, how challenging it can be to square Palin’s fame, which is considerable, with her presidential prospects, which polls say are less than sterling.

(Or put another way: You are unlikely to see an eight-photo layout of, say, Tim Pawlenty in his jogging clothes on Newsweek’s site anytime soon.)

And she appears to be enjoying her role as a non-candidate who isn’t locked into a traveling schedule -- and seems to take pleasure in confounding journalists and handlers alike. “We don’t advertise where we’re going,” she said. And as the article points out, her roles as Fox News commentator, author, reality-TV-show subject and professional speaker have been lucrative.

Palin, the article makes clear, would like to be viewed as an independent, reform-minded politician who stood up to special interests while Alaska’s governor.

“You know, I rarely use the term ‘bipartisanship,’” she said in the article. “I use the term ‘independent.’ Piper’s middle name is ‘Indie.’ That’s the Alaskan way of life. Seventy-three percent of Alaskans aren’t registered Republican or Democrat, they’re independent. Todd’s not a registered Republican. Most of the people I know, they’re independent people saying, ‘Just use common sense.’”

In the article, by Newsweek’s Peter J. Boyer, Palin is portrayed as being frustrated that that part of her story hasn’t resonated with the public. “Do people not understand why [John] McCain picked me?” she said.

But she also makes clear that she abides by the kind of fiscally conservative doctrine that fuels the "tea party" movement, with which she is now closely associated. She warns House Speaker John Boehner not to agree to a deal to raise the nation’s debt limit -- and says that she will be “very disappointed” with the GOP if it goes along.

She herself sees no reason to raise the limit, and said she would welcome the sort of extensive cuts that would be necessary to ensure that the government can pay its debts if the deadline passes without an agreement.

“The fact is that we have $2.6 trillion in revenue coming in, and if we just use some common sense there -- take that revenue, service the debt first, take care of national priorities -- we don’t have to increase debt.”

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