Sarah Palin’s announcement that she will not seek the GOP nomination for president was met with surprise and disappointment from his most ardent supporters in Iowa. Palin sent a letter to her top backers on Wednesday announcing the decision. It is a tough blow for several activists who have spent countless hours laying the groundwork for a Palin candidacy.
“I wasn’t expecting to deal with this tonight, to be honest with you,” said Richard Rogers. “After (Chris) Christie’s announcement, I spent some time last night and earlier today to scour the internet for clues and I didn’t really find much.”
Palin’s long flirtation with a presidential bid grew tiresome to most Republicans. However, her followers in Iowa hold firm in their belief that Sarah Palin remains the best choice for next President of the United States. None of the supporters TheIowaRepublican talked to were prepared to back another candidate. They also said Palin’s potential endorsement would not factor into their decision.
Peter Singleton moved from California to Iowa 10 months ago to put together the Iowa chapter of Organize4Palin. He travelled the state at his own expense, meeting with county central committees and conservative activists. Singleton and others were doing the grassroots networking required of paid political operatives. For free.
“I’m disappointed for the country, but have no regrets for what I’ve done,” Singleton said. “We had a fantastic grassroots organization here and I have nothing but respect for Governor Palin.”
A handful of longtime Iowa political activists joined Organize4Palin along the way. They left the group following Palin’s early September visit to Iowa, but remained devoted to the cause. Like Singleton, none of them expressed remorse for the time and effort they put into a campaign for a candidate who eventually decided not to run.
“It surprises me and disappoints me,” said Richard Rogers. “After Christie didn’t get in, it surprises me because I think there was an opportunity. I don’t think the depth of support is that great for any of the other candidates right now. The enthusiasm isn’t there.”
Rogers’ wife Cathy took over event coordination duties for Palin’s appearance at a Tea Party rally in Indianola over Labor Day weekend. She organized a team of volunteers that saved the event from being a complete disaster. The Rogers have been donating their time and effort for the past nine months, in hopes of a Palin presidential bid.
“I’m just disappointed for the country,” Cathy Rogers said. “I just don’t see anybody out there that has the voice that she does. While some of them talk the conservative philosophy, a lot of them don’t have the same record and conservative principles.”
Palin’s letter indicated she might endorse one of the other GOP candidates. “I believe that at this time I can be more effective in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants to office – from the nation’s governors to Congressional seats and the Presidency,” the former Alaska governor wrote.
Although Palin’s backing might bolster one of the presidential candidates, that endorsement does not seem to carry much weight among Palin’s top backers in Iowa. Craig Bergman said her endorsement would make no difference to him.
“She endorsed John McCain, did I get behind that,” Bergman said. “She endorsed Terry Branstad, did I get behind that?” In fact, Palin’s endorsement of Branstad in the 2010 Iowa gubernatorial primary still does not sit well with some Iowa conservative activists.
Organize4Palin’s leader in Iowa does not believe Palin will endorse another presidential candidate. If she does, he says his group of volunteers is highly unlikely to work as hard for Palin’s chosen candidate as they did for the former Alaska governor. “Definitely not en masse,” Singleton said. “I don’t expect her to endorse, but maybe she will. Even if she does, we all make our own decisions as Americans.”
For this group of Sarah Palin diehards, there is no candidate who comes close to comparing to her. “We’re not prepared to lay our money down for anybody else,” said Richard Rogers. “It’s not like we had a strong second choice.”
Craig Bergman adamantly believes Palin’s absence from the race means Mitt Romney will win the GOP nomination. “It is inevitable,” Bergman said. “None of them are going to beat Mitt Romney. Not because I have any love of Mitt Romney. I know my American political history. The Republican Party has always gone to the runner-up. It’s Mitt’s turn.”
Peter Singleton says he will return to his home in California soon, but believes those involved in the Organize4Palin movement will stay involved in the political process in Iowa, helping state and congressional candidates. Many of them had not been politically active prior to joining the effort to set up a grassroots network for Sarah Palin.
As for the longtime Iowa political activists who laid the groundwork for a Palin campaign, her announcement is not the first time they have experienced disappointment in politics. Their hope is that Sarah Palin will continue to make an impact in the conservative movement. Her letter indicates she will. Besides, the 2016 campaign gets underway in Iowa in only three years. The hype of a Palin run is likely to begin anew. Considering the fervor of some of her supporters, they might continue to wait for her.
Photo by Dave Davidson, Prezography.com
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