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No, Sarah Palin isn’t ‘seriously interested’ in running for president

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin did what she does best on Saturday: Dominate the news.

Palin, in a conversation with the myriad national reporters in Iowa to cover one of the first 2016 Republican presidential candidate cattle calls, said that she was "seriously interested" in running for president in 2016. That came just days after she said she was "interested" in the race.

The "news" -- as always with Palin -- drove massive amounts of traffic to the WaPo website and, presumably, to all of the other news sites that covered it. (Worth noting: No one -- not even Palin -- can beat out a winter storm bearing down.)

But, here's the thing: There is NO indication that Palin is "seriously" doing anything that would indicate any real interest in the race aside, of course, from doing that easiest thing of all: Just saying it.

This has been Palin's M.O. since she was the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008. She hints at the possibility that she might run, a hint that sends all of those who love and hate her -- there are tons of both -- into a tizzy.  But, there's never any "there" there.  And, it's worth calling it out.

Running for president, particularly in a field as deep and talented as the 2016 field looks to be, is very hard work. It's a labor-intensive effort to reach out to the thousands of activists in early primary states, court major donors -- often in a series of one on one conversations -- and develop a deep policy knowledge that allows you to speak from expertise (or at least significant knowledge) on matters both domestic and international.

In short: Running for president is not something done on a lark. It can't be. There's too much legwork involved. (I always say that running for president is like an iceberg. The part regular people see is the tiny bit above the surface; the massive amount of work to get to that point is the bulk of its mass below the waterline.)

The reality is that Palin, based on any number of conversations I have had with political people -- both those friendly to her and those not -- over the past few years has not done any of the laying of the groundwork necessary to "seriously" consider running for president.  Yes, by dint of her name recognition and the vaunted place she occupies for some part of the conservative movement, if she announced her candidacy tomorrow there would be a constituency for her. But, her ability to build and grow that constituency in a way that would allow her to, you know, actually have a chance at winning would be entirely dependent on her having built a political apparatus that she has never shown an interest in doing.

It's more-than-a-little disrespectful to the candidates in the 2016 field who are doing the grinding work to put themselves in a position to be serious candidates to cover Palin in the same breath. Talking the talk is increasingly easy in a media environment in which we will cover anyone who says anything.  Walking the walk is WAY harder.

So, when Palin says she's "seriously interested" in running for president, you should take it with a big grain of salt. I'm "seriously interested" in dunking a basketball. Doesn't mean it's going to happen.