Indianola, Iowa—The speculation can continue: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gave a rousing speech in defense of the tea party and conservative movement Saturday, but did little to shed further light on whether she herself will seek the White House next year.
"We need sudden and relentless reform and that will return power to 'We the People.' This of course requires deeds not words," Palin said at a tea party rally here. Chants of "run, Sarah, run" greeted her as she worked the rain-soaked rope line after her remarks.
Many establishment Republicans have long since written Palin off as a serious candidate, but she remains a favorite of some conservative activists. And recent polls indicate that even if she wouldn't enter the race as a front-runner, she would still attract a chunk of support: An August Gallup survey reported that the ex-vice presidential nominee attracted 11 percent support, tied for third with Rep. Ron Paul. Only Rick Perry and Mitt Romney received greater support.
Her entrance would undoubtedly shake up the Republican primary, especially in Iowa, where the large bloc of social conservatives could serve as her base. But whether she could withstand the scrutiny of a presidential race, or build a campaign to compete with Romney and Perry, remains a question mark.
Palin was an unknown on the national political landscape until she was the surprise vice presidential pick of John McCain in 2008. The move quickly turned sour on the GOP nominee, however, when Palin memorably struggled during a series of TV interviews and, after the campaign, had her capability publicly questioned by members of McCain's staff who worked with her. And despite only serving two and a half years as governor of Alaska, she suddenly resigned from her position.
Whether she will run for president has become a cat-and-mouse game between the ex-Alaska governor and the national media for months. Palin raised eyebrows when she began a bus tour across the country earlier this summer, including a stop in Washington, D.C., and drew throngs of media attention when she visited the Iowa state fair a day before the Ames Straw poll. But at no time did she give a solid indication of her future plans, even as speculation ran rampant that she was seriously considering a run for the White House.