Sarah Palin's 'Loaded for Bear' ad was released online late Wednesday
Sarah Palin's back! But did she ever really go away? The conservative firebrand has released a new fundraising ad for her SarahPAC organisation that is capitalising on her remarkable performance at theCPAC conservative conclave just a few weeks ago. That speech – in which she mixed rightwing red meat with boob jokes and Big Gulps – delighted her fanbase and served notice that Palin intends to have a political future.
This new ad is the next step on carving out that role. Liberals may scoff, pundits may shake their heads, but Palin herself clearly still wants some form of political life. Maybe that will be a run for an Alaskan senate seat in 2014, maybe it will be as a backroom powerbroker on the party's right wing. Whatever it is, Palin is plotting and scheming and – as the delighted crowd at CPAC showed – she can still pack a powerful punch.
It is an internet ad. Obviously, that is cheap and also intended to spread virally, as well as via the "earned media" of news stories. When you are Sarah Palin and your new ad is named "Loaded for Bear", success is virtually guaranteed. It already has 50,000 views on YouTube.
But here is the shock. This ad is very good. Brilliant, even.
The entire ad is a mash-up of clips from Palin's speech at CPAC, a wide variety of commentators describing that speech as a huge hit and then a long list of Republican politicians paying tribute to her and thanking her for her help in getting them elected. It is well-edited and flawlessly executed, with the sort of gradually swelling soundtrack that the Obama camp used so well in 2008 and 2012. It is the sort of ad that makes viewers feel they are part of something bigger than themselves; a movement gathering behind an inspiring figure. There are few figures in American politics who can make their fans feel that way and Palin, it's clear, is still one.
The ad is fascinating on numerous levels. First is that its targets are not Democrats or the Obama camp. It is the Republican elite. At numerous times, the ad quotes Palin attacking her own party bosses:
"They talk about rebranding the GOP instead of restoring the trust of the American people."
Not surprisingly, there is no reference to the gag she made about her "rack" in the very same speech. She slams "focus groups" and "consultants" and makes a direct pitch to the conservative base – a group of people who have no desire to change the GOP after 2012's loss. It is heady stuff. For a woman who notoriously despises the "lamestream" media, she uses clips from journalists, including even the pinkos over at CNN and MSNBC, who all laud her pulling power with conservatives.
But the real key to this ad lies in what it says about Palin's ability to endorse other candidates.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz – who made a surprise introduction of Palin at CPAC – is filmed at length thanking her for her endorsement and saying how other up-and-coming stars like Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley also owe her a huge debt. The ad then mentions the 2014 elections and how 35 Senate races and 36 governor spots are up for grabs.
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