Will Sarah Palin Run For President In 2016? Martin O'Malley Joked About It In A Tweet, But It Raised A Serious Question

After Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, announced his decision to run for the presidency, he immediately became the subject of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin’s latest Facebook criticism of liberals. In her post, Palin referred to O’Malley — a Democrat — as being an “anti-freedom politician” who “doesn’t have much chance of winning” the presidential election. O’Malley was quick to respond, with a joking tweet inviting Palin — who was John McCain’s running mate in 2008 — to run for president herself. While O’Malley was most likely trolling, he raised an important question: Will Palin decide to run for office in 2016?

Back in January, Palin told The Washington Post that she was “seriously interested” in running for president in 2016. A subsequent article in the Post, however, warned readers to take the news of Palin’s interest with a grain of salt, arguing that she has not been laying the necessary groundwork to make a bid for the presidency. In short, writer Chris Cillizza says that Palin has been “talking the talk,” but has not been reaching out to major donors or activists in early primary states. Indeed, Palin has been expressing interest for a long time; last September, she said she would love to see “a woman on both sides” of the presidential race. She got her wish without announcing her own candidacy, though: Carly Fiorina is running for the Republican nomination.

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In February, Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live for the show’s 40th anniversary special, and joked about running in 2016 with Donald Trump as her running mate. While Palin went along with Jerry Seinfeld’s jokes that night, she was critical of SNL, saying that she doesn’t believe the show has any major influence on public opinion during presidential debates.

Civil rights activist Al Sharpton ran into Palin on the red carpet at the SNL special, and he tweeted that he told Palin to run for president — not to win, but to “help the Democrats out.” So far — both because Palin's conservatism is often satirized in shows like SNL and The Colbert Report and because she has not been doing a sufficient amount of on-the-ground work to have a chance of winning the election — her “serious interest” in running for office has primarily been the subject of jokes like Sharpton’s and O’Malley’s.

But that hasn’t stopped Palin. In March, she told Fox News' Greta Van Susteren that she would “never say never” to running for president. She said that her decision would be influenced by whether Americans "want a fighter, if they want someone who can so respect our exceptionalism, everything that makes America great, the promise of America. And if we don't find that, then I would run," Palin said. She went on to say that there are other public servants “willing and able to serve and to lead this country” and that it “doesn’t have to be” her — that Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul would both be suitable presidential candidates.

It looks like we’ll have to wait and see if Palin proceeds beyond being “seriously interested” to actually making an official announcement about running in 2016. But although she’s not an official contender, her conservative reputation and social media presence would probably guarantee her a constituency — not big enough to win but a constituency nonetheless — if she decides to run.

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