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Palin fuels presidential bid speculation in Iowa

By Reuters
Tuesday, June 28, 2011 19:51 EDT
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PELLA, Iowa (Reuters) – Republican Sarah Palin said on Tuesday she is still studying a potential 2012 presidential run, though her daughter said she has already made up her mind.

Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, attended the premiere of a flattering documentary about her, “The Undefeated,” at the opera house in this small Iowa town.

Palin has carefully left the door open to a campaign. Her appearance in Iowa was likely to encourage those who think the former Alaska governor still might jump into a wide-open race.

Her visit came a day after Michele Bachmann, a Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives who is often compared to Palin, launched her own presidential campaign in Iowa, and at a time when many candidates, even President Barack Obama, are touring the early voting state to seek support.

The Midwestern state holds the first contest on the road to the Republican 2012 presidential nomination.

Palin’s daughter Bristol, a mini-celebrity in her own right, added to the political buzz by saying on Fox News that her mother had made up her mind already about whether to seek the nomination and that she would like to see Sarah Palin run.

“She definitely knows,” Bristol Palin said when asked whether Sarah Palin had made up her mind. She said the decision would remain within the family for now.

Palin brushed aside her daughter’s comments as she arrived for the premiere, saying: “I’m still contemplating.”

Palin launched a “One Nation” bus tour in late May of the eastern United States and plans are said to be in the works for another tour at some point. But Palin has almost no campaign infrastructure, while the race to be the Republican candidate to challenge Obama is now well under way.

If Palin were to run, she and Bachmann would likely be competing for the same social conservative voters who are powerful in Iowa, whose caucuses next February are the first voting contest of the 2012 nomination battle.

The biopic premiered in Pella is likely to keep Palin in the spotlight, much as her reality TV show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” did earlier this year.

The documentary traces Palin’s rise from mayor of tiny Wasilla, Alaska, the battle she waged to win election as the state governor and then charted her time as John McCain’s 2008 running mate. Palin is a key narrator in the movie, which is based on her “Going Rogue” memoir.

Palin’s visit created an air of excitement in Pella, a town founded by Dutch immigrants in 1847 and boasting a picturesque windmill. Taking in the scene was John Anderson, riding a bicycle with a sign draped around his neck that said, “It’s now or never, Sarah, America is calling you.”

“She’s an inspiration,” said Anderson. “I like her spunk, I like her drive, I like her charisma.”

With her massive name recognition, Palin can probably afford to skip the Republicans’ August straw poll in Iowa, said Tim Hagle, a political science professor at the University of Iowa. That poll is a gauge of who will win the Iowa caucuses.

Palin should have made up her mind by Labor Day in early September on whether to run to give her team time to organize for the Iowa votes.

“It’s not too late for her to get into the race,” Hagle said.

(Additional reporting by Kay Henderson; editing by Anthony Boadle)

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