She also seems to grasp the notion — as Gingrich and Keyes have done — that she can use separate organizations to appeal to different potential contributors. (This serves two ends: gathering a broader range of supporters who might be turned off by some of her views, and creating more targeted direct-mail lists.) The SarahPAC Web site, for instance, emphasizes her economic and environmental priorities — there is no whiff of religion or social values there.
Elsewhere, however, it is clear that she is forging a connection directly to the faith-and-values crowd. Her first speech in the lower 48 this year was at a right-to-life dinner in Indiana, where she spoke of maintaining her pregnancy after learning that Trig would be born mentally disabled. Religious conservatives idolize Palin for it, says Howard Phillips, long-time conservative activist (and onetime chair of the Boston Republican Party) who heads the Conservative Caucus. "Her number-one issue is the defense of life," says Phillips.
HarperCollins, which is publishing Palin's memoir, will reportedly also distribute the book through its Zondervan subsidiary — possibly with additional faith-oriented material. Zondervan distributes through religious outlets, and more than three dozen "strategic alliances" with religious groups, ranging from Focus on the Family to Prison Fellowship.
The financial strength of the religious part of the conservative marketplace is enormous — and the void waiting for a new leader is apparent by the number of people vying for it. Gingrich recently launched an organization called Renewing America's Leadership, intended to be a political arm for religious-right groups. At least three other organizations with the same goal have debuted just in the past few weeks: Faith and Freedom Coalition (chaired by former Christian Coalition head Ralph Reed), the American Principles Project, and the Freedom Foundation — the latter two also featuring prominent leaders. None, however, has anyone with the cachet of Palin, whom Christian conservatives view as a modern-day Queen Esther, as the Phoenix reported during the presidential campaign.
(Palin encourages that view: in one of her first interviews after announcing her resignation, as was widely reported, she proclaimed that, politically speaking, "if I die, I die." What was not widely reported was that, in that instance, Palin was quoting Queen Esther.)
HarperCollins will also most likely help Palin maintain high visibility. It is owned by News Corp, the umbrella under which arch-conservative opportunist Rupert Murdoch operates Fox News Channel.
It's not clear how much formal synergy exists between the two. But it's hard to imagine why else Hannity (a HarperCollins author) provides such a ubiquitous platform to former Clinton advisor Dick Morris, other than to pump up sales for Morris's books, published by HarperCollins — or to imagine Morris's latest book debuting at number one on the New York Times bestseller list last month without that exposure. Others in the HarperCollins stable, like Neal Boortz and Bernard Goldberg, also get plenty of FNC face time. Although it's unlikely that Palin would decide to host her own show — Phillips notes that it would anchor her down — she could make frequent appearances and fill in as a guest host. Especially as the publishing date for her book draws near.
Pick a lane
All of this assumes that Palin wants this remunerative path, and not one that takes her to the presidency.