Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Waffling about running for president

Sarah Palin's vacation irks Oregon congressman; Michele Bachmann's camp says Palin's not serious

A combo of file photos shows former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, L, in California on February 4, 2011, and US lawmaker Michele Bachmann in Washington DC on March 31, 2011.

Sarah Palin's "One Nation" tour has gotten under the skin of more than just junior high school history teachers. An Oregon Democrat is crying foul at the way the National Park Service appears to be bending over backward to provide special treatment for Palin and her family as they tour historic landmarks and visit state parks. He wants an investigation.

"I opened my paper this morning to hear about cutbacks in state parks around this country,” Rep. Earl Blumenauer told ABC News on Tuesday. "We have a serious backlog of maintenance in the National Park Service. And it looks like Sarah Palin’s little political cavalcade gets this amazing VIP treatment --  I’m scratching my head. If it’s a private family vacation, what in the world are we doing getting people in with preferential early admission and having an entourage of public employees? It looks like a political stunt, and Palin Inc. ought to pay for it."

A Park Service spokesman told the news organization that it recognizes that Palin is neither an elected official nor a candidate; they opened up the park early for her family and provided special tours just as they would "for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie."

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Sarah Palin is the best thing to happen to Mitt Romney, he says


Sarah Palin may not be an official candidate for president, but she's definitely on Mitt Romney's radar. On Monday's Piers Morgan talk show on CNN, the former Massachusetts governor says the former Alaska governor is a plus to his campaign, despite the fact that her "One Nation" bus tour may have stolen some of his spotlight last week.

On the same day that Romney officially threw his hat into the racefor the GOP nomination for president in New Hampshire, Palin and her traveling road show pulled up just minutes away from him, distracting, at best, reporters who wanted to see what the hockey mom would say next.

Romney told Morgan that he didn't see it as a distraction. Her appearance in New Hampshire "really didn’t ruin my day," Romney said. "In a lot of respects it’s the best thing that could happen to me," he added.

"I think Sarah Palin is generating enthusiasm and interest in a campaign this year. That’s a good thing,” Romney explained. "She has a lot of energy and passion and bringing it to our race is positive for us."

Palin told Chris Wallace of Fox News on Sunday that she didn't mean to steal Romney's thunder.

"I think there’s a curiosity factor there still that’s in play. I don’t know. But I apologize if I stepped on any of that PR that Mitt Romney needed or wanted that day. I do sincerely apologize. I didn't mean to step on anybody's toes," she said.

A Rasmussen survey released Monday revealed that Romeny was viewed by likely voters as the most-qualified GOP presidential hopeful, while Palin came in as the least-qualified. Of those polled, 63% of said Palin was unqualified.

Tim Pawlenty and Ron Paul tied for second behind Romney in regards to being qualified. Romney was viewed as qualified by 49% of those polled, Pawlenty and Paul were seen as qualified by 27% of respondents.


Sarah Palin claims Paul Revere warned the British

Piper Palin shares her mom's hot and cold attitude toward the media

Mitt Romney leads in Iowa poll, Sarah Palin a close second, Ron Paul dips to 7th

-- Tony Pierce

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington on June 3. GOP White House hopefuls courted Christian conservatives at the conference. 

Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Donald Trump folds -- will not to run for president


Donald Trump marched in like a lion and on Monday backed out like a lamb, announcing that he would not seek the Republican nomination for president. Indeed, the man who called himself the Democrats' worst nightmare has gone quietly into the night.

"After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the Presidency," the boisterous billionaire said in a statement Monday morning.

"This decision does not come easily or without regret; especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country," Trump said, adding that he believed that if he were to have thrown his hat in the ring, he would probably have been the next president of the United States.

"I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election. I have spent the past several months unofficially campaigning and recognize that running for public office cannot be done half heartedly. Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector," the real-estate tycoon said.

The announcement (full text below) comes a little more than a month after Trump tied Mike Huckabee in the CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey. Although each man garnered 19% of the nods in that poll, neither chose to jump into the race. Huckabee announced Saturday that he'd rather not try to take on the GOP hopefuls and the increasingly popular President Obama.

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Newt Gingrich inches closer to announcing run for president

Newt Gingrich Facebook Wall

Newt Gingrich updated his Facebook profile Monday by announcing that he will appear on Fox News' Sean Hannity show on Wednesday evening to "talk about" his "run for President of the United States."  This lines up with news Gingrich's spokesman told The Times last week that the former speaker of the House will officially be a candidate shortly.

Although the 10-term former member of Congress writes that he is "humbled by all the encouragement" he has received during the exploratory phase, it's hard to ignore the first three comments his statement received on his Facebook wall and speculate how the veteran politician will handle the scrutiny.

The first commenter demands that Gingrich name former Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate while the third commenter rebutted that idea with an all-caps "NOT" accented with not one but two exclamation marks.

But it's the second comment that not only bashed the forum on which the Georgia Republican is choosing to speak, but one of the sensitive skeletons in the former congressman's past. Gingrich has admitted to two affairs that he had during his first two failed marriages.

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Al Gore update: He will write a book


Al Gore, remember him? Joe Lieberman's running mate.

A former newspaper reporter and inventor, Gore led the Democratic Party into oblivion in 2000 by losing his own home state in the presidential election against some Texas yahoo. Gore has signed to write another book.

The publisher describes the upcoming tell-all tome as "an X-rated look at the seamier side of American public life where empty-headed liberal celebrities with hypocritcally huge carbon-footprints and this year's spouse receive immense sums of money simply for showing up at glitzy ceremonies to exchange meaningless awards."

The working title is: "A Convenient Truth."

No, not really. The book will actually be another riveting account of "the political, social and economic forces that are shaping what America and the world will become in ensuing decades," according to the publisher.

According to Gore, who likes long sentences as well as long court fights:

With this new work, I hope to help start a conversation about the large-scale drivers of change that are defining and shaping our future — from the rapid development and integration of radically new technologies to the planet-changing impact of the climate crisis, to poverty, globalization, and the democratization of knowledge accompanying the emergence of a ubiquitous Internet linking ever more intelligent devices.

Could there be a Current TV reality spinoff show in the democratization of knowledge?

The book was acquired by a new Random House editor, noted talk-show guest Jon Meacham, who recently led the Newsweek print edition into oblivion.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images (Happy Joe Lieberman helped Gore lose the presidential election in 2000 before switching sides and doing the same for Republican John McCain in 2008).

Michele Bachmann said to ponder a presidential run

Republicans Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann campaign together in April 2010

Michele Bachmann, yes, Michele Bachmann is considering a presidential run, according to several of her aides who suddenly started talking about the subject with Minnesota reporters.

In fact, the Iowa native (Waterloo) will travel to her home state later this month to talk against the massive spending of you-know-who at a fundraiser for the Iowans for Tax Relief PAC in Des Moines.

Bachmann, now starting her third House term, has proven a media magnet like her like-minded fellow Republican conservative Sarah Palin; both are often quoted, often derisively. This fall, Bachmann was targeted by numerous prominent Democrats but proved adept at raising both many dollars and votes.

Consumers of American political news should always be wary when they read about....

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Gravitas -- Karl Rove says Sarah Palin doesn't have it; hockey mom says she will run if there's nobody else

sarah palin showing reporters the notes on her hand

Gravitas. Webster's dictionary says that gravitas means "high seriousness (as in a person's bearing or in the treatment of a subject)." One of its examples is "The new leader has an air of gravitas that commands respect."

Former Bush advisor Karl Rove thinks the new(ish) leader and hockey mom Sarah Palin might have many things, but gravitas isn't on the top of the list.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, the man affectionately known as Turd Blossom said the former Alaska governor was fine as Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2008, but being commander-in-chief is a different story.

"Being the vice presidential nominee on the ticket is different from saying, 'I want to be the person at the top of the ticket,' " Rove told the British newspaper. "There are high standards that the American people have for [the presidency] and they require a certain level of gravitas, and they want to look at the candidate and say, 'That candidate is doing things that give me confidence that they are up to the most demanding job in the world.'"

And strangely, palling around with wild grizzlies and fishing in the Alaskan wilderness for a cable TV series doesn't impress Bush's Brain either when it comes to thinking about the next Republican nominee for president.

“With all due candor, appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery Channel, I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of 'that helps me see you in the Oval Office,'" Rove said.

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The Palin brand: how an ex-Alaska governor amassed $12 million in 1 year, plus lots of political capital


Palin Inc. has lots of cool slogans (remember "Re-load!") and tons of money. In fact, the brand has everything except a logo and a listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

Ever since she resigned as governor of Alaska -- to defy a state ethics czar who was giving her a hard time about going out on a book tour, according to New York magazine -- Sarah Palin has become a media celebrity with a huge commercial footprint.

According to a new profile in New York, Palin over the past year has piled up a $12 million fortune. Her memoir has sold more than 2.2 million copies. She is planning a second book.

She has a three-year deal as a contributor to Fox News worth $1 million a year.

She sold a cable show to TLC for a reported $1 million per episode, though her take-home is "only" $250,000 for each of the eight installments. And she gets $100,000 per speech, putting her in the....

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Lou Dobbs was against alien amnesty before he was for it

In the surest sign yet that the newly former CNN talker seriously plans to enter politics, Lou Dobbs has already flip-flopped on the question of amnesty for people illegally living in this country.

Having created much of his fame and infamy out of controversial statements on the unacceptable presence of an estimated 12 million undocumented workers in this country and the federal government's ineptitude in addressing the problem, here's what Dobbs now says:

We need the ability to legalize illegal immigrants under certain conditions.

His surprising switcheroo barely two weeks after departing his network of nearly 30 years came during an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, Dobbs, a Texas native and graduate of Harvard, lives on a 300-Lou Dobbs resigning on the air earlier this monthacre farm in northwest New Jersey, where he could run for a U.S. Senate seat. 

Or possibly launch a presidential bid for 2012, trying to tap into the kinds of conservative populist anger that has confounded the Republican party and fueled so-called "tea parties" across the country this year, protesting taxes, spending and deficits.

"Whatever you have thought of me in the past," Dobbs told Telemundo's Maria Celeste the other day, "I can tell you right now that I am one of your greatest friends and I mean for us to work together. I hope that will begin with Maria and me and Telemundo and other media organizations and others in this national debate that we should turn into a solution rather than a continuing debate and factional contest."

The Garden State usually votes firmly Democratic. But earlier this month voters there rejected the reelection  Democrat Gov. Jon Corzine -- who had ample money and the frequent campaign support of President Obama -- and elected a Republican on a "taxes-are-too-high" platform.

The next U.S. Senate election in New Jersey comes in 2012, when incumbent Democrat Robert Menendez is up for reelection for the first time.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Screen shot of Lou Dobbs on CNN. Credit: Tony Pierce / Los Angeles Times

A Newt Gingrich run in 2012? Quite possible but...

No one in their right mind announces or confirms a White House run this far out.

Yes, presidential campaign announcement dates have been creeping up. In 1960, John F. Kennedy announced on Jan. 3 of election year. Bill Clinton announced the fall before election year. George W. Bush announced the summer before election year.

And Barack Obama the winter before the summer before the fall before election year. And that successful run cost $750 million in other people's money.

Why ask to be politically targeted this soon?  It's -- what? -- 1,107 days now until Nov. 6, 2012.

So C-SPAN's Mr. Excitement, Steve Scully, knew better Sunday than to ask former House Speaker Newt Gingrich whether he was going to run in the next presidential contest.

Savvy fellow that he is, Scully inquired instead what kinds of things Gingrich would think about as he contemplated that decision. (See C-SPAN video below.)

Gingrich, who engineered the stunning 1994 Republican election victories in....

... both houses of Congress with the Contract with America before quitting after some defeats four years later, walked through the thinking process. 

Callista and I are going to think about this in February 2011. And we are going to reach out to all of our friends around the country. And we'll decide, if there's a requirement as citizens that we run, I suspect we probably will. And if there's not a requirement, if other people have filled the vaccum, I suspect we won't.

Gingrich ran through a lengthy list of other possible Republican suspects, praising Mitt Romney and Haley Barbour and Tim Pawlenty and whats-her-name with the new book and the Nov. 16 appointment with Oprah. Gingrich said, "I have no great personal ambition needs to run for president."

Although, to be honest, he's not exactly hiding himself either, analyzing for Fox News, writing books, gathering nearly 1.14 million followers on Twitter (only 387,000 behind John McCain), giving speeches all over and rising early on an autumn Sunday to answer questions on C-SPAN from even the Democratic and Independent phone lines.

Gingrich also harkened back to the '94 Contract, saying politics needs to be about ideas -- he called them "vivid, powerful alternatives" -- not just maneuvers. "I want to see an alternate Republican Party," Gingrich said, "not an opposition Republican Party."

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Video courtesy of C-SPAN

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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