GETTYSBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) – Sarah Palin has found a new way to keep her political faithful guessing.
Palin was a no-show for several hundred supporters, celebrity-watchers and media who turned out in hopes of seeing her at the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg on Monday. She and her entourage arrived at a hotel outside the town late in the day and spoke to a smaller group of people gathered there.
The Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008 is on a tour of historic sites on the East Coast, renewing speculation she might be testing the waters for a presidential bid in 2012.
Palin remained noncommittal on whether she will run.
“I honestly don’t know,” the former Alaska governor said, CBS reported on its website.
There is one thing she does know but is not telling: her itinerary. That has left supporters as well as reporters guessing where she will pop up next.
On Sunday, Palin entered Washington on the back of a Harley-Davidson in a war veterans’ motorcycle parade that is part of the Memorial Day weekend observance in the capital.
Rumors, then Twitter messages, then posts on her website showed Palin had also visited sites in and near Washington — the National Archives, where the U.S. Constitution is on display, and Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, where the “rockets’ red glare” described in the national anthem took place.
A photo on her website late on Sunday showed the closing words of the Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln after the 1863 battle. That was taken as a hint.
Several hundred people gathered at the Civil War site on a hot, sunny day for a glimpse of the woman who supporters hope will inject some life into a sluggish race for the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama next year.
Some of those assembled there were puzzled by goal of the tour, which seemed designed to attract public attention despite a lack of information.
“In a way it’s cool. In a way it’s, ‘Whaa?'” said John Hower, a baker who drove for three hours from Berwick, Pennsylvania, with two friends to see Palin. “She’s trying to avoid the media. But I’d like to see the bus. We’re, like, where’s this bus?”
A charismatic and polarizing figure who resigned as governor, wrote a book, and became a Fox News commentator after the 2008 election, Palin’s entry into the Republican field could spice up a race among candidates who so far have failed to arouse passion among core party members.
“I think she’d kick the mix up,” said Janita Carlton of Green Forest, Arkansas. “I think she’s a smart lady and she has backbone.”
By the evening, reports of her bus being parked at a hotel reached the crowd. Many stayed at the battlefield hoping she would visit the memorial as temperatures cooled late in the day. Eventually, after hours of waiting, the crowd thinned.
“I’m disappointed. Yeah, I would have liked to have seen her,” said Sharon Danielski, who left after a nine-hour vigil.
Hower, the baker, described what drew him there.
“She’s a big name, she’s always in the news,” he said. “She might be a future president. Maybe not this time but sooner or later she might get it right.”
(Editing Doina Chiacu)
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