A rapt crowd takes cell phone pictures as a Sarah Palin impersonator Patti Lyons, right, does an interview at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, on Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) By Jacquelyn Martin
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- Sarah Palin has hired longtime political strategist Michael Glassner as chief of staff of her political action committee.
The hire, confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday morning by Palin aide Rebecca Mansour and SarahPAC Treasurer Tim Crawford, is certain to fuel fresh speculation about Palin's possible intent to run for president in 2012. Palin has only said she's considering a run.
Glassner managed Republican vice presidential operations in 2008, when Palin was John McCain's running mate. Glassner also served as the longtime senior adviser to former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole.
"The fact this is someone who's had a career in national politics, that's the only indication that something might be up," said Ross Baker, a professor of political science at Rutgers University. But he doesn't think it's very significant in trying to divine Palin's plans, and it could just be a routine organizational move, he said.
"We tend to apply the sort of standards of interpretation that we would apply to, let's see, a Mitt Romney, that we would to her, and it's usually wrong, because her plans are so cryptic and her method of operation is so unconventional," he said.
Since resigning as Alaska's governor in 2009, Palin has relied heavily on Facebook and Twitter to communicate her point of view and remain in the political limelight. She also burnished her celebrity credentials last year, starring in the travelogue series "Sarah Palin's Alaska," and releasing a second book.
"Clearly, everybody is, all of the other hopefuls are hedging their bets based upon whether or not she's in the game or not," Baker said, adding that he believes a potential contender, like U.S. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, probably would have given a clearer indication by now of his intentions if not for the uncertainty surrounding Palin, a tea party darling.
"I think she's keeping people off balance," Baker said, "which I think she probably finds quite enjoyable, that somebody who's a relative newcomer in the party has been able to keep all of the pros guessing."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)