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Palin Not Reaching Out to Key Iowans Ahead of Visit

Palin Not Reaching Out to Key Iowans Ahead of Visit

By Scott Conroy - June 27, 2011


WATERLOO, Iowa -- Sarah Palin appears to be designing her impending visit to Iowa to be as low-key as possible.

The former Alaska governor is slated to arrive in the small Iowa town of Pella on Tuesday to attend the premiere of "The Undefeated" -- a flattering documentary that highlights her accomplishments in office and bangs the drum for a potential insurgent campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. Though she is never lacking for attention, Palin's trip figures to be scrutinized especially closely, since it will mark her first appearance this year in the nation's first voting state.

Politico reported on Monday that Palin aides were reaching out to Iowa operatives and activists to set up meetings during her visit, citing Chuck Laudner, a former Iowa GOP executive director. But Laudner told RCP that he did not have a private meeting scheduled with Palin and that no one who works for the former governor had made contact with him.

Laudner said that he received an invitation to attend the festivities surrounding the movie premiere from Peter Singleton, a California native who moved to Iowa several months ago to help organize in the state in advance of a possible Palin presidential run. Singleton is acting on his own and is not a Palin aide but has often been confused for one as he has made his presence known across the state.

"Putting me on this list doesn't really mean much to me," Laudner told RCP. "I'm on a list to go to this event, but I didn't expect there was going to be high drama. . . . He just said be there, and I said OK."

For his part, Singleton confirmed to RCP that he has not been working with the Palin camp.

"If Governor Palin was setting up meetings, she wouldn't set them up with me," Singleton said. "Not a single activist I've talked with has said anything about that. . . . I'm not affiliated with the Palin organization. I invited Chuck because he's a really great friend and a really nice guy."

Several other key players in Iowa Republican politics -- including state GOP Chairman Matt Strawn, Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition President Steve Scheffler and the office of Gov. Terry Branstad -- told RCP that Palin's camp had not reached out to them ahead of Tuesday's visit.

Steven K. Bannon, the filmmaker behind the documentary, said that his own lack of outreach to prominent Iowa Republicans had been by design and "in keeping with the populist undertones of the movie."

The film will be shown in the historic Pella Opera House, the seating capacity of which has been increased to 340 for the high-demand event; a 110-year-old organ will provide the musical accompaniment to help set the Americana atmosphere.

The mayor of Pella is scheduled to speak, and about 1,000 people -- most of them local residents -- are expected to attend a post-screening barbecue where Palin will also be on hand.

Both the film screening and cookout are by invitation only, although many of Palin's devoted fans may show up in Pella anyway to encourage her to run.

Scott Conroy is a national political reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at sconroy@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @RealClearScott.

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