The White House Friday called Sarah Palin a “formidable force” within the Republican party at a time when she is showing signs of interest in running for president in 2012.
The former Alaska governor set off speculation about her intentions Friday with a visit to Iowa, which traditionally kicks off the state primaries that every four years choose the parties’ candidates for the presidential elections.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Palin had shown her ability to draw big crowds in 2008 as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate, and more recently had an impact in Republican primaries.
“I have no doubt that she is a formidable force in the Republican Party and may well be, in all honesty, the most formidable force in the Republican Party right now,” he told reporters.
A victory in Iowa gives a candidate crucial visibility at the start of the presidential race, as it did for Obama in early 2008, so its voters are eagerly courted by presidential hopefuls.
Gibbs noted that candidates have to spend time in Iowa, personally answering questions put to them by the voters.
“You have to build support and a following very methodically. It takes a lot of time,” he said.
“It’s normally around this time of year you — you go to — to dip your toe in the water,” he added. “My guess is that she’s going to dip that toe in.”