From the Washington Post:
Unorthodox, thy name is Sarah Palin.
The former Alaska governor, who is known for her unconventional approach to politics, outdid even herself with a bus tour over Memorial Day weekend.
The trip, which was announced via her political action committee website Thursday, resembled nothing so much as an episode of “Amazing Race” — a helter-skelter series of stops at historical sites with little (if any) advance notice given of her plans.
The lack of details left reporters confused and scrambling, and the political world wondering just what she was up to. Which is, of course, exactly how Palin likes it.
Asked about a potential 2012 campaign on Sunday night, Palin said “it would definitely be non-conventional and untraditional,” a comment that amounts to the political understatement of the year.
Palin added in an interview with Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren (one of her go-to members of the mainstream media): “I don’t think I owe anything to the mainstream media ... I want them to have to do a little bit of work on a tour like this, and that would include not necessarily telling them beforehand where every stop’s going to be.”
The bus trip proved what most political observers already knew about Palin.
Firt, she has the ability to draw crowds — and excitement — like no one else currently in the Republican presidential field. Wherever Palin goes, crowds flock. The ability to generate organic excitement is a quality not to be underestimated in the context of a political canpaign.
Second, Palin revels in end-running — or ignoring altogether — the mainstream media. Any other potential presidential candidate planning a week-long bus trip would not only release the specifics of where and when he or she was stopping but would also ensure access to the candidate for reporters following along.
Not Palin. She communicated her whereabouts almost exclusively via her PAC website, forcing reporters to rely primarily on rumor to determine what her next stop might be. When reporters tracked her down, she talked to them. But tracking her down wasn’t easy.
What the first days of her bus trip proved then was that if Palin does run, she will do it in a manner consistent with the way she has approached political life since she and Arizona Sen. John McCain lost the 2008 presidential race.
Instead of communicating via the media, Palin will use her massive Internet and social media presence to push her message out. Rather than a regimented schedule of travel to early states like Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, Palin seems likely to opt for a more fluid schedule that allows for surprise drop-ins on average Americans.
No presidential campaign in the modern era has been run in such a manner and succeeded. Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson sought to minimize his travel to early states and focus on communicating with voters through cable televison and web videos. He didn’t win a single primary or caucus.
But Palin’s star shines brighter than Thompson’s. And her conviction about the country and the way in which campaigns can work runs deep.
But star power and conviction alone have never been enough to win over voters in Iowa and New Hampshire. What]s clear from her bus tour, though, is that if Palin runs for president, she’ll do it one and one way only: hers.