MICHELE NORRIS, host:
And we're going to stay on the topic of Arizona. A new word is about to enter the political lexicon: Sarah-zona. The Arizona Republic newspaper reported recently that Sarah Palin and her husband Todd may have purchased an 8,000-square-foot house in Scottsdale, fueling speculation that the former Alaska governor might use the Southwestern state as a base for a presidential campaign.
Joining us now is Andy Barr of Politico, and also originally from Arizona, which means it's doubly good that we're talking to you. Thanks for being with us.
Mr. ANDY BARR (Politico): Thanks for having me.
NORRIS: What do we know about this purchase? Has Sarah Palin or Sarah PAC confirmed the purchase?
Mr. BARR: Well, I can confirm for you that she did purchase this home up in northern Scottsdale. And it's interesting, in talking with some of the people from her PAC, they note that this is near a major airport hub. And even though it's still far away from D.C. and the East Coast, it's significantly closer than Alaska. And, you know, whether this would be the site of a campaign or not, we don't know, but it's at least a perch for in the lower 48 that she didn't have before.
NORRIS: And she had lots of choices if she wanted to move to the lower 48, but why would Arizona be a logical place for Palin to launch a campaign?
Mr. BARR: For one, she just seems to like it there. Her daughter is there. She's very close with Governor Jan Brewer. And it's kind of far enough outside the Beltway chattering class - the kind of things that she really dislikes about politics - and yet close enough so that she can get in when she wants to get in.
NORRIS: Is there any potential backlash after the Tucson shootings where Palin was placed in a very harsh spotlight for a webpage that had Congressman Gabrielle Giffords' district in some sort of crosshairs. Giffords was critically wounded in that shooting. Will that make it harder for Palin to embrace the state as a new home base or even a weigh station?
Mr. BARR: I think it will, because I think a lot of folks in Arizona - and I can tell you from having gone back home and the rest of it is just, they don't blame her necessarily but they think that that kind of rhetoric is irresponsible.
You're seeing a lot of those folks who had spoken the same kind of way, whether we're talking about Russell Pierce or Joe Arpaio or whoever in Arizona, they had all these personalities who kind of subsisted on over the top rhetoric, and you haven't heard a lot from them recently. They've been very quiet. In fact, all of their political stocks are sinking.
And the other thing for Palin is whenever her name comes up in Arizona, the next sentence is about Gabby Giffords. And so if she ever wanted to do anything there, be significant in the state, she'll forever be linked to the Giffords shooting.
NORRIS: Can Sarah Palin reach out to Hispanic voters effectively? That is very important for anyone who has political ambitions in a state like Arizona.
Mr. BARR: It is, and there's no indication that she can. I've been to a lot of rallies of hers and you rarely, rarely, rarely see faces that are not white and any younger than 50 years old. She has a very firm demographic hold. And I've seen very little evidence that she could encourage any minority group or any even younger voters to come out for her.
NORRIS: How difficult is it for a candidate to wrap themselves in new geography? She's so closely attached or associated with Alaska. Will people see her as Sarah from Arizona?
Mr. BARR: I don't think they ever will. I mean, the way that they describe this to me is almost it's like a winter home for her. It's going to be a part-time residence. She's still going to be up in Alaska.
And you're right - Alaska is her political DNA. Every anecdote that she has is about Alaska. She's constantly selling Alaska. So, I don't know how much her image will be changed or how much she'll even really try to change her image to kind of fit in with the kind of desert libertarian thing of the Arizona Republicans.
NORRIS: There are hockey moms in Arizona.
Mr. BARR: There are very few. I can tell you, ice hockey is picking up, despite the fact the Coyotes have been miserable for years.
NORRIS: Andy Barr is a national political correspondent for Politico. Andy, thank you very much.
Mr. BARR: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.