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Palin asks if US ready for 'unconventional' candidate

Mark Mardell | 15:55 UK time, Monday, 7 March 2011

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin is pondering whether the American people are ready for an "unconventional" candidate.

In an exclusive interview with my colleague Jackie Long for Newsnight, she says she sees her unconventionality as a strength and explains that it means she wouldn't let "a political machine get in the way of what is right for the voters".

Mrs Palin also says that the amount of cash in US President Barack Obama's war chest is another factor, and says if she did decide to run she would have to put up with "a lot of BS from the media".

But what is also striking from the great Newsnight piece filmed in Alaska (watch it here) is that neither the Tea Party conservatives in Mrs Palin's home town nor conservatives in the Alaskan gun club who very much like Mrs Palin are willing to endorse her enthusiastically as a presidential candidate.

It's not her conservatism that's at issue, but whether she is right for the job - whether she is ready for the job.

Then there is the Karl Rove faction.

The man credited as being "Bush's brain" seems concerned that President Palin would use her own brain and not be constrained and guided by those around her. He, not a shrinking pinko violet himself, feels she is too unconventional, and plain wrong.

While many Republicans would be gloomy about the thought of her as a candidate, Democrats might be thrilled.

She would fire up their base, bringing out voters who other wise stay at home.

But will she run?

I've never really bought the line that Mrs Palin is only in it for the cash and fame. She is very political, very ambitious, and I am sure she wants to be president.

By 2016, her moment might have passed. The Tea Party might be down the drain, she might be old news. I don't get the feeling that patience is one of Mrs Palin's virtues.

But then again, the prospect of a few more years of unconventionality and a few more years to build her own war chest might make make waiting look more attractive than running in a lacklustre field and still losing to a more mainstream Republican.

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