Palin visit fuels White House fever
Sarah Palin has stoked new speculation of a future presidential run, inserting herself into the 2012 conversation by visiting Iowa during an important week in the Republican race - and just as Texas Governor Rick Perry becomes a candidate.
"There is still plenty of room for a common sense conservative," the former Alaska governor insisted to a crush of reporters as she inspected cattle with her family at the Iowa State Fair.
Characteristically, she played coy about her plans and sent mixed messages.
Mrs Palin said she has not decided whether she would run for president, but suggested she was leaning toward a bid, adding: "When we're ready to announce ... you won't be able to miss the announcement."
Asked about Mr Perry, she said: "He's a great guy and I look forward to see him in those debates."
But she rebuffed questions about whether that meant she would be standing on stage with him.
And when pressed about her future plans, Mrs Palin said a trip home and a visit to the Alaska state fair were in order. "Moose season is starting up in Alaska soon so we'll go back home and moose hunt," she said, adding: "And then, we'll come back out on the road, we hope."
Officially, Mrs Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee who resigned the Alaska governorship midterm in 2009, was in Iowa as the Midwestern swing of a One Nation bus tour that she began in the spring on the East Coast.
She called it a family holiday but her political action committee paid for the trip. Part of it included a visit to the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire - the same day Republican front-runner Mitt Romney formally entered the race.
This time, her visit to the state whose early February caucuses lead off the Republican nominating contest was sandwiched between a Thursday night debate and the Iowa straw poll in which most of her would-be rivals are participating.