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Palin Book Tour Spurs Presidential Speculation

Sarah Palin greets fans and supporters as she signs her book 'America by Heart,' during a book signing event in Phoenix, Arizona, 23 Nov 10
Sarah Palin greets fans and supporters as she signs her book 'America by Heart,' during a book signing event in Phoenix, Arizona, 23 Nov 10

Former Alaska governor and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has embarked on another national book tour that is fueling speculation about a possible presidential run in 2012.

Sarah Palin's latest book is called America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. In it, the former Alaska governor criticizes President Barack Obama for what she calls a lack of faith in the American people.  Palin also writes that while she personally admires Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she also finds Clinton frozen in what she calls "an attitude of 1960s-era bra-burning militancy."

Palin recently told TV interviewers that she is considering a run for president in 2012. During the recent midterm election campaign, Palin was one of the most popular campaigners for Republican candidates around the country.

"Surely we can't wait until 2012 to get our country back on the right track. We need to start now by electing strong leaders who are not afraid to shake it up, to rein in the federal government. It is time for no more business as usual.  It is time to take our country back," exclaimed Palin.

A new poll by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut found Palin at the top of a tightly bunched field of Republican presidential contenders for 2012.  The survey found that Palin got 19 percent support in the prospective Republican primary field, followed closely by former Massachusetts governor and 2008 presidential contender Mitt Romney, with 18 percent.  Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was third with 17 percent, followed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at 15 percent and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty at six percent.

Quinnipiac pollster Peter Brown says Sarah Palin might be able to win the Republican Party's presidential nomination but would face an uphill fight in the general election.

"Governor Palin has a very interesting profile of support.  There are a large number of people who support her strongly but overall her numbers for the overall electorate are not good.  54 percent of voters have an unfavorable opinion of her while only 36 percent have a favorable opinion.  Those are tough numbers to change for someone who at this point is so well known,” says Brown.

In trial heats in the Quinnipiac Poll, Mitt Romney edges President Obama 45 to 44 percent while Mike Huckabee trails the president by two points, 46 to 44 percent.  Sarah Palin performs worst of the three in a trial heat, trailing the president by a margin of 48 to 40 percent.

The fact that Sarah Palin is even considering a presidential run has set off a fierce debate among political experts and pundits including Morton Kondracke, the executive editor of the newspaper Roll Call.

"I think she is a phenomenon. I think she is a rock star. I think she attracts cameras wherever she goes. But she is a joke. Even within her own party, the idea that she would be the presidential nominee among vast majorities of ordinary Republicans is just unthinkable,” says Kondracke.

But that view is not shared by everyone.  Some analysts have imagined a scenario in the 2012 election campaign in which Palin would become the Republican nominee to face President Obama and a possible independent candidate like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who could draw liberal and moderate votes away from the president.

Norman Ornstein, a political scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, considers this an ideal scenario for Palin.

"If you had a Sarah Palin as the Republican nominee, a Barack Obama [as the Democratic nominee], and then you have got a [New York City Mayor Michael] Bloomberg coming in, that might increase the chances of a Palin being able to win in a three-way race."

But the analysts are divided on whether Palin will even run for president. Charlie Cook, editor of the independent political newsletter, The Cook Political Report, thinks she will prefer the fame without the responsibility that would come with the highest public office in the country.

"I think she is making more money than she ever dreamed of before. She is a celebrity. She can get on TV wherever she wants. She has got, as my kids would say, a pretty sweet deal going and why would she want to mess with that and just get back into this grinder?"

The 2012 presidential campaign may seem like a long ways off but for those contemplating a run it is just around the corner. Presidential contenders are expected to announce whether or not they will be candidates in the first half of next year in order to begin organizing their campaigns to compete in the first party caucus and primary votes early in 2012.

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