Sarah Palin Arrives at State Fair, Attracts Every Camera Within 500 Miles

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 12 2011 2:41 PM

Sarah Palin Arrives at State Fair, Attracts Every Camera Within 500 Miles


DES MOINES -- The rumors came true around 12:30 p.m. local time, as Sarah Palin appeared at the Iowa state fair, making her way into the livestock pens near the edge of the grounds. Palin, who's starting another leg of a national tour, had not announced where she'd go, and this location was a good ten minute's walk away from the "soap box" where political candidates were speaking. Dogged reporters found her anyway; I came later, after a detour through a sheep barn (the "baaaaas" of the sheep were not lost on me), and after spoting an enormous amoeba of boom bikes and cameras moving slowly around two figures.

It was a circus, which wasn't surprising. The irony was that by keeping the visit hush-hush, Palin was limited in the number of people she could talk to. Clued-in fairgoers got into the media scrum to meet her, and exited with signatures and tips.

"Small business!" said one successful autograph seeker. "Get up there and tell her you're a small business owner! She'll talk to you."

But Palin and her husband Todd spent a lot of time answering questions from reporters. When Jake Tapper of ABC News arrived in the scrum, with more cameras, Palin stopped taking ad hoc answers and started an impromptu press conference. She made some news, saying she would probably make up her mind on a 2012 bid by next month, "in fairness to supporters who are standing on the sidelines."

"I don't want to be perceived as stringing people along," she said. "Don't jump on someone else's bandwagon because I might jump in. That's not fair to them."

Before I'd gotten there, Palin had told reporters she was glad to see Rick Perry run for president "even though he wouldn't," and that the governor of Alaska had more power than the governor of Texas. Both true statements, both of which came out during the early part of a media frenzy. By the time I arrived, reporters were repeating the lines at her.

"You seemed to be critical of Rick Perry," started one reporter.

"What did I say?" asked Palin, exasperated. She looked at Scott Conroy, the co-author of the Palin bio Sarah From Alaska, and a diligent reporter on the Palin beat. "Did you do it?"

Conroy fessed up and repeated what she'd said about the powers of governors.

"See, now this is what I don't understand about the press!" said Palin. "You make a statement like that, which I did. You asked me, what's the difference between your experience as governor and Rick Perry's. An I said, there's two different forms of government in the state of Alaska and the state of Texas. Alaska has a very powerful executive position. Texas, it's not as powerful. That does not mean he did a better job or a worse job than any other governor, including myself."

"So it's a distinction," said Conroy. "Isn't that worth reporting?"

"No!" said Palin, turning to talk to someone else about who should win the straw poll.

"I would never tell people who to vote for," she said. "I think Ron Paul still has a great stance of winning the straw poll. I think Herman Cain has a chance, too."

Realizing that Palin's talk had just taken me away from talks by Paul and Tim Pawlenty, I exited the scrum.


David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Gentleman Scholar
Oct. 22 2014 5:54 PM May I Offer to Sharpen My Friends’ Knives? Or would that be rude?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Wild Things
Oct. 22 2014 2:42 PM Orcas, Via Drone, for the First Time Ever
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.