When it was announced that Sarah Palin would speak at a Tea Party event in central Iowa on Labor Day weekend, a month-long storm of speculation occurred. The media was obsessed with the notion that Palin may be about to enter an already crowded GOP field of presidential candidates.
The media loves to speculate anytime a high profile politician announces that they will be giving a speech in Iowa, but about the fascination with Palin is at a whole new level. Palin did her part in feeding the media frenzy. Not only did she confirm her attendance at the Tea Party event, she made a cameo appearance at the Iowa State Fair, and followed it up by producing a glitzy web video that was shot at the fairgrounds which included a reminder that she will be back in the state on September 3rd.
If that wasn’t enough, organizers of the event told everyone who would listen that Palin would be making a major announcement from Iowa. The media rightfully began to speculate that she may run for president. Obviously, that made Palin uncomfortable, and it was made clear that she would not be announcing her campaign in Iowa tomorrow, but rather, her speech would make it clear what Palin’s future holds.
Ironically we don’t need to wait to hear what Palin has to say to know that the future doesn’t entail a 2012 presidential campaign for her. If the drama surrounding the Tea Party of America event over the past few days has proved anything, it’s that Sarah Palin is not ready to run for president. That’s not to say that she will never run for president, but the events of the last few days have confirmed that Palin has not built the necessary political apparatus to effectively run for national office.
Whether or not Palin was going to use the Tea Party of America event to announce her candidacy or not, the event had the makings of a very significant occasion for her. Palin had once again captured the media’s attention. The eyes of the nation were going to be on her on Saturday. The nation was anxiously awaiting what she would say.
Despite a few kinks here and there, the build up to the event was perfect. Then, in a matter of hours, the event went from being a significant moment for Palin to being an event that would reconfirm all of the negative stereotypes members of the media and some in the general public have of her.
In many respects, the drama surrounding the event doesn’t have anything to do with Palin herself. Palin’s people were not the ones inviting, disinviting, reinviting, and redisinviting speakers. That was the organizers of the event. However, it didn’t help when Palin’s participation at the event was put on hold for five hours on Wednesday.
An event that showed great promise in just a week ago now needs to be salvaged by all involved. Here are the lessons we can learn from what transpired with this event.
1. Palin is Not Prepared to Run For President
It takes more than just a willing politician to pull off a presidential campaign. Palin has always had the star power and charisma to succeed on the national stage, but that will only take her so far. Palin may have an inner circle that advises her, but what she needs are loyal professionals who will look out for her best interests in everything she is involved with.
If the Tea Party of America event was going to be a venue where Palin was planning to make a major speech, she needed to have her people more involved so that the fiasco regarding Christine O’Donnell could have been avoided.
All campaigns, big and small, are really a series of events and appearances. Instead of finding an event that Palin could speak at, she would have been better off building her own event. Sarah Palin doesn’t need anyone to build her a crowd, but to pull off an event of this magnitude takes staff, and that is something that Palin doesn’t have in Iowa. Peter Singleton and the Organize for Palin group are outstanding volunteers, but they are just that, volunteers, not staff.
To run for president you need people who will put their lives on hold and who will put their candidate’s best interests above their own. Palin doesn’t have anyone in Iowa that fits that bill. That alone is the reason why I’ve never thought she is running for president in 2012.
2. Palin Has to be Perfect to Avoid Her Negative Stereotype
All it took was one little mishap, and the media ran wild with stories about how spastic Sarah Palin is. The stories about Christine O’Donnell being on and off the docket for Saturday’s event were deadly. So too was Palin’s decision to put her appearance on hold.
3. The Events You Attend Are More Difficult To Pull Off Than They Appear
I’ve organized a number of major political events in Iowa over the past decade. Through the years, I’ve come to realize that the best recognition one can receive about an event they organized is that they go unnoticed. That means everything went off as planned and there were no problems. The fact that the organizers of the Tea Party of America event are part of the news story is not a good thing. This event would have been a huge success if the only thing people talked about was Sarah Palin’s speech.
4. The Message Matters
Ultimately, everything in politics comes down to delivering a message, and the same is true for political events. Instead of creating a big hootenanny by inviting everyone and their brother to participate, the event organizers should have paid attention to the message that is being sent by the event as a whole. The last thing you want to create at your event is a distraction.
Like her or not, O’Donnell was a distraction. The theme of this event should have been Sarah Palin and the values and principles she stands for. If you are looking for other big name speakers to add to the speaking roster, you might have wanted to reach out to the people who were featured in the Palin movie.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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