Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has some ardent supporters who have been laying the groundwork for what they hope will be a “Palin for President” effort in Iowa.
Peter Singleton, a lawyer from California, moved to Iowa eight months ago and he says he’s been using his own money to travel the state, going to Republican Party meetings at the county level as well as Tea Party events to sign-up supporters for Palin.
“We personally believe that she’s going to run,” Singleton says.
That “we” includes Michelle McCormick, who first met Palin in Pella in late June, at the debut of a documentary about Palin. McCormick describes herself as a “supporter” of Palin.
“I just kind of notice a theme some people like to use and they like to refer to Governor Palin as a ‘celebrity’ and, by extension, people who like her are ‘fans,'” McCormick says. “She’s not a celebrity and we’re not fans. She’s a political leader and we’re supporters of her.”
In July, McCormick took a leave of absence from her job in Fort Worth, Texas, to move to Iowa and join Singleton’s Organize4Palin effort.
“I’m that passionate about my principles and I think this election is incredibly important, so that trumps any uncomfortableness I had about leaving my secure job and comfortable lifestyle in Texas.”
How many Iowans have joined this “grassroots network” McCormick and Singleton have been building?
“We don’t talk numbers. We are absolutely delighted to be underestimated,” Singleton says. “…We didn’t even start talking about our county strategy until we’d been in about 65 counties. We didn’t talk about the fact that we had a team until we had a really good team in place. We just would much rather operate under the radar and let the other guys underestimate us.”
Both Singleton and McCormick got a call from Palin’s staff last month, inviting them to meet Palin at the State Fair. Singleton says he had tears running down his face as he saw Palin talk with fair-goers.
Tomorrow Palin is the headliner for a midday event in Indianola, on the balloon fields. That venue is used by Democratic Senator Tom Harkin for his annual “Steak Fry” fundraiser which has drawn large crowds over the years. In 2003, when former President Bill Clinton and seven Democratic presidential candidates spoke at the Harkin Steak Fry, more than 10,000 people sat on the hillside, in the rain, for the mass rally. In 2007, when six Democratic presidential candidates were featured at the Harkin Steak Fry, the crowd was estimated at about 12,000 Singleton expects a “good” sized crowd today for Palin.
“But we’re not going to measure the success of the event by the number of people that come. We think that people are going to come because they’re passionate about this country,” Singleton says. “…Governor Palin has drawn very sharp distinctions between our side and the other side.”
Saturday’s event is being organized by the “Tea Party of America”, an Iowa-based group co-founded by the former leader of the Des Moines Tea Party. A separate group called the “Tea Party Express” held an event in Des Moines earlier this week, attracting a crowd of fewer than 100 in a park along the Des Moines River. Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann addressed the crowd.
Palin plans to attend a Tea Party Express event in New Hampshire later this Labor Day weekend.