A Different Kind of Split Ticket

The New York Times today reports that Sarah Palin's future is being plotted by adoring conservatives who hope that she will help lead the GOP back from the wilderness in a couple of years. A meeting is planned in Virginia for next Wednesday, the day after these very Republicans expect John McCain to lose his bid for the presidency to Barack Obama.

Palin is reportedly un-pleased by the way the McCain campaign introduced her to the world, and Bill Kristol and others join her in that sentiment. Just as I predicted, these Palin fans hold McCain accountable for everything from her inability to name a newspaper she reads to the fact that she was recently found to have violated Alaska's ethics code and abused her power.

That said, these Republicans are looking to the future, and they are bypassing Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and others to place their stock in Palin. Brent Bozell, president of the media research center, was quoted as saying "she has proven she can electrify the grass roots like few people have in the last 20 years ... No matter what she decides to do, there will be a small mother lode of financial support behind her."

My friend Ron Bonjean, a veteran communications director for top GOP leaders on Capitol Hill including ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert (Ill.) and -Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Miss.), rolled out a plan for Palin in the New York Post this week that maps out how she can undo the damage to her reputation and build on her strengths.

To create a Palin movement, Bonjean recommends, she should go back to Alaska, because she must remain an outsider. Plus, Palin should use the National Governors Association as Bill Clinton did, to "showcase his skills and make connections." Bonjean says Palin should own the energy issue, traveling the world to meet foreign leaders and establish relationships.

"All of which would set her up for a run on the 2012 ticket," he writes, which leaves open the question — for president, or this time just a better vice presidential candidate? Palin is no doubt a star, and no doubt making plans for her future.

But after Tuesday's election returns, let's see how many Republicans voted for McCain because of Palin and how many voted against him because of her.

This is going to get interesting.


IS McCAIN COMING BACK IN THE POLLS, AS HIS CAMPAIGN SAYS? Ask A.B. returns Thursday, Nov. 6, following the election. Please send questions and comments to askab@thehill.com to join my weekly video Q&A. Thank you.

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