Are appearances at makeup and skin-care events proper platforms for a presidential candidate?
Probably not, but these days one can't take anything for granted.
Take Sharron Angle
, for example. After making a credible attempt to unseat Democratic Sen. Harry Reid in Nevada last fall, the tea party favorite could be gearing up for a White House run. She was in Iowa recently, attending the premiere of "The Genesis Code
," a film featuring former presidential candidate Fred Thompson.
And prior to that? On Jan. 21, she appeared at a makeup and skin-care event
with Joni Rogers-Kante, founder and CEO of SeneGence International in Las Vegas. At that "girlfriend" gathering, Angle shared "her beauty and makeup challenges during the campaign and how she overcame them." The flyer said that Angle "had confidence that she would look great with 14-16 hour days & numerous appearances daily . . . so can you!"
The juxtaposition might not have raised eyebrows except that she told a reporter from the Des Moines Register
, who asked about her plans, "I'll just say I have lots of options for the future, and I'm investigating all my options."
She then added, perhaps slyly, "Please, just invite me back."
At that Vegas skin-care event, did Angle whisper what color of lipstick she'd prefer to wear in the Hawkeye State – or the Granite State and beyond? More to the point, is she even serious about such a bid? In all likelihood, no. But she's guaranteed media coverage when she ventures into Iowa, where any appearance by a political figure has potential portent.
Angle gained national prominence by taking on Reid. Her momentum grew thanks to the Internet and social media. Before becoming a tea party favorite, she served in the Nevada state legislature from 1998 to 2005 and in 2006 narrowly lost a congressional GOP primary.
Pundits and others -- especially comedians -- have scoffed at the notion of an Angle presidential campaign. On Comedy Central's website
, one post joked, "Is there room for one more clown in the clown car? Come on, clowns! You can make room! Go on, scoot over. Scoot over!"
But before everyone laughs, maybe they should pause.
Angle may not run -- her chances of success are virtually nonexistent -- but she might influence the primaries with money and rhetoric if the tea party movement holds strong. During her race against Reid, she raised more than $21 million (though, admittedly, conservatives viewed her as their best chance to boot a despised incumbent). And she recently announced her "Patriot Caucus PAC
," which is aimed at creating "a ground game across most battleground states for the 2012 election cycle."
The PAC also launched a corresponding website
and Facebook page
, which only has about 6,000 followers so far -- a small number in the online political world. The PAC's advisory committee includes tea party organizers in New Hampshire, Florida and Iowa, where the Patriot Caucus plans to open offices. The website features "action groups," one of which currently profiles Herman Cain
, the former chief executive of Godfather's Pizza, conservative host of a popular talk radio show in Georgia, and himself weighing
a 2012 presidential bid.
But the website cautions: "Action groups on the Patriot Caucus do not suggest an endorsement of any kind. All GOP candidates will be given an action group once an official campaign is announced."
According to Federal Elections Commission reports, the PAC has yet to raise any money.
Angle also doesn't work social media sites the way a future presidential candidate might. She updated her Twitter account
last week after visiting Iowa, but prior to that, the last time she updated it was at Thanksgiving. Her only active Facebook account that is public is tied to her PAC, which was last updated Jan. 20.
Her trip to Iowa barely got a mention on The Iowa Republican
blog. In contrast, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's visit and book signing
on Sunday was a featured story.
Nonetheless, Lara Brown, an associate political science professor at Villanova University, says women such as Angle, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann cannot be dismissed for one reason -- they bring other women into the political process (even if MSNBC host Chris Matthews calls them "balloon heads
" -- a term he used for Bachmann -- Brown says).
"While some of these women's presidential efforts will be little more than quixotic escapades, there is little doubt that they are changing the complexion of the Republican Party by demanding a place at the table and by energizing conservative women to engage in partisan politics," Brown says.