Skip to main content

Sarah Palin follows the Donald Trump method

By James C. Moore, Special to CNN
updated 8:46 AM EDT, Tue October 29, 2013
Sarah Palin speaks at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum in Houston in May.
Sarah Palin speaks at the National Rifle Association Leadership Forum in Houston in May.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • James Moore: Sarah Palin's revival on the tea party stage increases her brand recognition
  • Moore: She's a marketing machine, taking every opportunity to raise her profile
  • Moore: Palin promotes tea party candidates in safe districts, never runs for office
  • He says her re-emergence comes just before release of her book defending Christmas

Editor's note: James C. Moore is a business consultant and partner at Big Bend Strategies, a business messaging firm. He is co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential" and a TV political analyst.

(CNN) -- Sarah is selling Sarah. The former vice presidential candidate and half-term governor of Alaska is a commodity of one and a marketing machine. She has created a new politics of profit.

Palin's reanimation on the tea party stage probably means no more than the other intentions she has floated but never executed. She spent almost a year of the last presidential election cycle teasing the far right that she was going to run for president. She never did, but lots of network TV interviews and speculative articles drove up her name recognition and brand identification.

And she's not running again.

James C. Moore
James C. Moore

Palin is re-running the same show in her home state of Alaska by hinting that she is going to be a candidate for the U.S. Senate. She will not run though. There is too much risk of failure. She's not the near-unknown who was elected governor of Alaska and then quit 2½ years into the job. She has a profile, and she intends to use it to make money, which is one commitment she knows how to keep. Running and losing is always bad for business.

Palin is a product. Not a candidate.

Politically, Sarah Palin is an opposite gender version of Donald Trump. She makes grandiloquent statements about candidacies and a future that she knows will never transpire. Trump and Palin lack the courage to run for president but have profitably monetized the speculation about a candidacy. Trump cannot abide the notion of losing, which he knows is inevitable, and he fears what that might do to his image and revenue stream. Palin is self-aware enough to realize that she has neither the intellect nor popular support outside the increasingly unpopular tea party.

So why not make a buck?

In the detritus of the McCain-Palin presidential campaign, the second name emerged as the lead act. The first nine months after her resignation as governor, at the end of July 2009, Palin reportedly earned $12 million, including a book deal, a TV show and speaking fees that were generally more than $100,000 per appearance.

It's not hard to tell whether principle is more important than profit for the failed vice presidential candidate. The tea party has been charged $100,000 for a Palin speech, and, even as she promotes support of charities, a Toronto cancer center a few years ago paid $200,000 for her to attend a fund-raiser, and the event sold out at $200 a seat. Her politics and intelligence might be trifling, but Palin appears to have evolved a very nice business model: Raise the profile to raise the revenue, mostly for herself.

And she's back at it.

Until recently, Palin hasn't been too active, except on social media. She seems to have the entire national tea party population on her Facebook page, but the TV cameras had not been showing up when she gave her bargain-priced speeches. A love spat with Fox News that kept her off the air and then back into the network's arms has left her fans confused. Donations to Sarah PAC fell off. Why was no one paying attention?

Palinians should not fear. She has seen opportunity in the tea party and its plans to beat moderate Republicans in GOP primaries. This is a nearly risk-free approach to increased Sarah-wareness.

The candidate runs, Palin speaks and rallies the initiates. She endorses, and if the campaign fails it is the candidate's fault, not Palin's; she's moved on to help in another race. But the cameras came, reporters took notes, images were broadcast, words were published, and Palin's price went up.

Timing is critical to maximizing opportunity, of course. When the federal government shut down as a consequence of tea party obstinacy, Palin jetted off to Washington to help her ideological consort, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, as they crashed the "Barrycades" at the National World War II Memorial.

Those cameras and bullhorns and journalists were there. Palin had just arrived from New Jersey, where she had endorsed the hopeless tea party candidacy of Steve Lonegan, who lost, soundly, but not without Sarah getting TV time in New York.

In business school, they teach "know your customer." Palin might have attended that class because she is promising to help tea party candidates unseat GOP U.S. senators in South Carolina, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee in 2014. The Sarah Promoting Sarah tour begins, however, several months ahead at the Iowa Faith and Freedom Foundation dinner on November 9.

In what is almost certainly a coincidence of timing, just three days later, Palin's new book goes on sale for the holidays. She has not written about the Constitution or her understanding of Paul Revere in the Revolutionary War; Palin, instead, is doing the much more challenging work of preventing further harm to Christmas. "Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas," can already be pre-ordered. Get yours now. Or just send a check to Palin. She might not understand politics or policy, but Palin knows money.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of James C. Moore.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
updated 12:25 PM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
updated 12:23 AM EDT, Sun August 31, 2014
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
updated 9:06 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
updated 10:43 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
updated 1:22 PM EDT, Sat August 30, 2014
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
updated 9:30 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT