Will Palin TV show translate into presidential run?

Mon Nov 15, 2010 4:24pm EST
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By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Sarah Palin's new television series showing her fishing for Alaskan salmon and scaling a glacier is the kind of free media exposure most politicians can only dream about.

Will her reality TV show translate into a Republican presidential campaign for Palin, the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee? Or will it expose her as a publicity hound lacking presidential gravitas?

These are questions circulating among Republicans as Palin remains coy about whether she'll seek her party's nomination to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama in 2012.

"Sarah Palin's Alaska" premiered Sunday on the TLC network less than two weeks after Republicans made big gains in November 2 congressional elections. Political analysts agreed the show can only help soften the image of the former Alaska governor who most Americans see as an uncompromising Tea Party conservative and deeply polarizing figure.

Palin, 46, has her work cut out for her. A Gallup Poll last week said 52 percent of Americans view Palin unfavorably, the highest percentage holding a negative opinion of her since Senator John McCain picked her as his vice presidential running mate in 2008.

The first TV episode showed Palin in her element: fishing with her family as brown bears cavorted nearby, struggling to climb a glacier in Denali National Park, preparing for a Fox News appearance from her lakeside home and complaining about an investigative journalist writing a book about her next door.

"This is none of his flippin' business," she says of author Joe McGuinness.

Politicians usually have to spend millions for this kind of exposure. Adweek estimated Palin could receive up to $2.25 million in free media exposure per episode, or $18 million.   Continued...

<p>Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her son Trig are shown in a scene from her new TLC Channel reality series "Sarah Palin's Alaska" in this publicity photo released to Reuters November 12, 2010. REUTERS/Gilles Mingasson/TLC/Handout</p>