Sarah Palin flirted openly with running for president today, saying there’s “no one” more qualified for White House multi-tasking than “a woman, a mom” and even went so far as to describe the man-on-the-street campaign she’s considering.
Her comments came during a free-wheeling Q & A session at the Long Island Association, a business group whose president, Kevin Law, asked questions ranging from her potential 2012 run to her position on what’s next for Egypt, to the gun-control debate in the wake of the Arizona massacre.
Before the crowd of about 1,000, Palin lamented her low poll numbers, sounding almost wistful when asked about them before declaring, “They are what they are.” She accused the media of distorting her record, and said they “jumped the gun” to lay blame on her in the hours immediately following that shooting.
After saying she’s still considering a presidential campaign but hasn’t decided yet, Palin told the gathering that no one else immediately comes to mind for who she would back if she doesn’t run.
“I don’t have a name to give you right now, but what I would look for in character is someone who’s been on the front lines understanding how to administer and how to lead a team. … Gosh, nobody’s more qualified [for the] multitasking than a woman, a mom… who’s administered locally, state, with energy issues, so maybe a mayor, a governor maybe,” she joked, adding that “vice presidential candidate” was also a good precursor.
It’s an answer she’s given before, but this time she talked at fair length about the type of campaign she’d run if she jumps into the contest.
“I am still thinking about it – I certainly haven’t made up my mind,” said Palin, who was also asked why she hired a chief of staff this week and replied: “To tell you the truth, Todd’s getting kinda tired of doing it all for me.”
“As for potentially an unconventional run and an unconventional cycle – that’s what going rogue is all about,” she said, but added that if she runs it would not be all about the social media, and she also would be on the ground in Iowa.
“Certainly nothing is more effective than being there with the people in the diners, shaking hands,” Palin said. “I’m not saying it’s going to be me offering my name up in the name of service. There is so much to be considered, but I certainly believe that this is going to be an unconventional political cycle.”
“The public does need time” to get to know a candidate, she added. “Time on the ground is very important.”
The former Alaska governor recalled the “four days” she had to prepare for the national stage in 2008, saying: “It’s not even enough time to pack a bag. That’s why you have to borrow a wardrobe and then you get criticized for borrowing a wardrobe for six weeks on the trail.”
It was the rare appearance for Palin outside her comfort zone of the Fox News studios and social conservatives audiences at large rallies. Instead, this was a group of centrist, business-oriented Republicans and Democrats in a swing county that elected a GOP country executive less than two years ago after having a two-term Democrat at the helm.
She was greeted warmly by the audience, but also with skepticism and some challenging questions by Law.
“You have had a tremendous impact on politics and policy in just the last year-and-a-half,” Law told Palin at the outset.
When he asked her about her high negatives in polls, she calmly said the perceptions of her have been distorted, and said there was no way her numbers could be anything but low given the press she’s received.
“I don’t think that I’ve never gone through more negative press than I did right after Tucson,” she said. “I think the media really jumped the gun trying to lay blame.”
But she added, “I’m not blaming that incident for my poor poll numbers… they are what they are.”
“I’m gonna let people know who I am, what I stand for and what my record is,” she said. “(You) can’t rely on the liberal-leaning press to do that for you.”
During the course of the 45-minute event, for which her daughter Bristol was in tow, Palin:
* Stood by her support for the “freedoms” in gun-buying that exist today, as Law yoked the tragic Arizona shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and more than a dozen other people to infamous gun incidents like the Long Island Railroad shooting that claimed the life of Long Island Rep. Carolyn McCarthy’s husband in 1993.
“There are already on the books many gun control measures and I do support those,” she said. “I don’t support taking away even more freedoms from the good guys. …The bad guys aren’t going to follow the laws that are on the books today. They’re not going to follow any new laws that are put on the books either.”
“Certainly out hearts go out to the victims and pray for the full recovery of Gabby Giffords,” Palin said. “The criminal, he was an evil sick person. And adding another law to the book would not I believe have prohibited him from somehow some way fulfilling his mission and the mission he was on was to harm fellow human beings.”
* Blasted President Barack Obama over government debt and mocked First Lady Michelle Obama for pushing breast-feeding.
“I think that’s an overstatement to even say that we are even making a dent” in the national debt, Palin said. “It’s not even really a dent…(it’s) a little thumbprint there.”
She added, “It amazed me the other day watching the president…tell the American public, and the press is letting him get away with saying, his new (plan)….doesn’t add to the national debt. That’s not true. His spending plan does add to the national debt…that is the wrong road to be on. That is not what’s going to cure the economic ills in our country.”
She charged that Obama is “trying to get away with telling the American” public that his plan is a “good plan.”
* Seemed to confuse the debates around the president’s budget and potentially raising the debt ceiling, suggesting that if the latter doesn’t happen it “doesn’t necessarily have to result in a government shutdown.”
“I am so thankful for these strong congressmen and women who are saying, ‘No, we’re not gonna vote for the debt ceiling to be raised….all that’s going to do is create this allowance for more big spenders.”
The fomer vice presidential hopeful said the press is using “scare tactics to make you believe it has to result in a government shut down if we weren’t to raise the debt limit.”
* Struck a similar chord to other Republicans on Egypt, saying the U.S. needs to be careful to ensure the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t get “invited to the table to discuss how the reform in (Egypt) is taking place.”
“If they are radical enough to have already spoken against liberties and freedoms, then you have to wonder, is this a good deal for Egypt and for America’s interest – certainly for our ally Israel [whose] security and their safety … must be forefront on our list of concerns,” she said.
“We have to make sure that a group like the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t invited in to take over because that certainly would defeat all the purposes of those protesters,” she said.
* She declared the tea party, “thank God, it’s here to stay,” and suggested both Democratic and Republican party “machines need some shaking up.”
* Praised NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying she was “encouraged to hear about your governor, who seems to be open to the tradesmen who are on the front lines, the private sector bosses.”
* Defended her use of the controversial phrase “death panels,” saying it was in “quotation marks” when it was on her Facebook page and since then there’s been “this admittance” that some health care will be rationed. The health care reform bill “was literally crammed down our throats,” she said.