Pundits still unsure if Palin or Huckabee will run

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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Reading the tea leaves, I once assumed Fox News’ decision to suspend Rick Santorum and  Newt Gingrich — while allowing other contributors like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin to remain on air — implied Huckabee and Palin had put out word they would not be running for president in 2012.

I still tend to think that’s the case, though as the race “progresses,” I am actually becoming less sure of things.

And I’m not the only one.  Appearing on WJLA’s “Inside Washington” this week, columnist Charles Krauthammer noted that Huckabee is building a dream house in Florida, and that he’d be crazy to run for president.  But on Fox News Sunday, Nina Easton and Kevin Madden both said they expected Huckabee to run.

Meanwhile, GOP media consultant Paul Wilson tells me: “Neither [Huckabee nor Palin will] run.  They both have come to enjoy the benefits of stardom a great deal.  There is nothing wrong with that but it has changed them.”

These are all smart political observers, yet they are in disagreement over whether or not a candidate who is frequently leading in early polls will even throw his hat in the ring. And if Huckabee’s future is a question mark, Sarah Palin’s future is equally confounding.

While some are speculating that Palin’s star may be dimming, over at Human Events, Tony Lee has posted the “Top Ten Reasons Sarah Palin is Running for President.”

While I think it should be more accurately titled, “Top Ten Reasons Sarah Palin Might Still Run for President,” Lee’s arguments are not without merit.

Buttressing his position, Lee notes Palin’s recent international travel increases her foreign policy bona fides — as well as how her careful answer to a question on pensions implies “she does not want to anger older voters who are the most reliable subset of voters in the primary and general election.”  Again, I don’t think these are clear signals she’s running, but they might at least imply she’s keeping the door open.

Of course, the obvious reason for this speculation is that one can assume the entry of either Huckabee or Palin (let alone both of them) into the 2012 GOP primary race could have a dramatic impact on the outcome — regardless of who wins.

And again, it’s important to note how late it actually is.  As The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake recently noted, “To put this late starting 2012 race into context — 4 years ago next month, Fred Thompson jumped into the race.”