Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin says she’s still pondering a bid for the presidency.
Earlier today Palin and her husband, Todd, ate lunch at a Panera restaurant in Urbandale with Becky Beach, a woman who has helped raise money and guide a number of candidates through Iowa’s political landscape.
“It was a really great opportunity for them to meet ordinary Iowans having an ordinary lunch on an ordinary day,” Beach says. “The people were really excited. Almost everybody in the restaurant there came up to get their picture taken or ask for an autograph.”
Beach met Palin last fall when Palin spoke at a Republican Party fundraiser in Des Moines, a fundraiser Beach helped organize. But Beach says neither fundraising nor politics weren’t discussed at the lunch table.
“We’re going to Alaska and I’ve not been there before, so we talked to them about that,” Beach says.
Palin then appeared at the Opera House in Pella, watching a documentary about her life along with a crowd of 300. After the movie, Palin said the film helps “set the record straight” about her background and the things that are ignored by what Palin calls the “lame stream media.” She called Pella a place that “gets it.”
Palin’s daughter, Bristol, recently said her mother has made up her mind about the 2012 race, but was keeping her decision secret. Sarah Palin told reporters in Pella that she “is still contemplating” the prospect of jumping into the race, and Palin called it a “life-changing” and “earth-shattering type of decision.”
Shane Vander Hart of Des Moines saw the movie and was among those invited to a private picnic afterwards.
“She does actually have some interesting ground game going on with some volunteer organizers around the state. I mean, there’s not an event I go to where somebody from ‘Organize for Palin’ isn’t,” Vander Hart says. “I think a lot of people are going to be surprise by how much organization she does have even though it’s not formal, and they’re not paid.”
Vander Hart puts the odds of Palin running for president at 50/50.
“She continues to confound everybody who tries to guess at that,” Vander Hart says. “I think if anybody was going to get in the race late, she could probably do it.”
Vander Hart, who started the “Caffeinated Thoughts” blog, is a counselor for juveniles who’ve been convicted of serious crimes and he preaches at churches in the Des Moines area when their full-time pastors are away.