Wednesday 1 March 2017

Reality TV show edges Palin closer to White House bid

Jonathan D Salant in New York

Sarah Palin has her work cut out despite a softer TV image
Sarah Palin has her work cut out despite a softer TV image

FORMER Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is considering running for the US presidency in 2012.

The 2008 Republican vice- presidential nominee and star of a new reality TV show said yesterday she was "having that discussion" with her family and her decision would rest, in part, on what qualities she could bring to the race.

She endorsed more than 80 candidates in the 2010 elections, and at least 50 of them won. She also raised more than $10m (€7.4m) for Republican candidates and the party. Her political action committee raised $2.5m (€1.8m) between January 1 and September 30 and contributed $190,500 (€141,000) to candidates and Republican political committees, Federal Election Commission filings show. Ms Palin's new television series 'Sarah Palin's Alaska' -- showing her fishing for Alaskan salmon and scaling a glacier -- is the kind of free media exposure most politicians can only dream about.

Ever since she launched her reality TV show the question has been will the media exposure translate into a Republican presidential campaign, or will it expose her as a publicity hound lacking presidential gravitas?

These are questions circulating among Republicans as she toys with the notion of whether she'll seek her party's nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

'Sarah Palin's Alaska' premiered last Sunday, less than two weeks after Republicans made big gains in the November 2 congressional elections. Political analysts agreed the show can only help soften the image of the former Alaska governor, who most Americans see as an uncompromising Tea Party conservative and deeply polarising figure.

Negative

But Ms Palin (46) has her work cut out for her. A poll last week said 52pc of Americans view Ms Palin unfavourably, the highest percentage holding a negative opinion of her since Senator John McCain picked her as his vice presidential running mate in 2008.

The first TV episode showed Ms Palin in her element: fishing with her family as brown bears cavorted nearby; struggling to climb a glacier in Denali National Park; preparing for a Fox News appearance from her lakeside home; and complaining about an investigative journalist next door writing a book about her.

Politicians usually have to spend millions for this kind of exposure.

The show was watched by nearly five million people on TLC -- a large number for a small cable channel -- and was the biggest programme launch in terms of audience in TLC history.

The eight-part TV series is coupled with a 16-stop tour to promote Palin's second book, 'America by Heart'.

Irish Independent

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