Sarah Palin has announced that she will not enter the presidential race, ending months of speculation.
In a letter to her supporters, the doyenne of the Tea Party movement said:
After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for president of the United States.
As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order.
Her will-she-won't-she antics have overshadowed the race so far. She even upstaged frontrunner Mitt Romney on the day he announced his campaign, by launching a tour on what looked remarkably like a campaign bus.
Palin never set up a professional campaign staff, but kept teasing the media - and her supporters - with hints that she was still in the running. This year-long tease eventually cost her support in the polls. This week, a Washington Post poll showed two-thirds of Republicans did not want her to stand.
On top of this, the entry of Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry to the race split the conservative vote upon which Palin relies. It has long been suspected that she may prefer to stick with the extremely lucrative career she has carved out as a media personality. She even used her Fox show last month to wonder aloud about the presidency: "Is a title worth it? Does a title shackle a person?"
The New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, also bowed out of the race this week. These decisions finally clarify the Republican field, as no other candidates are likely to throw their hats in the ring at such a late stage.
It's now essentially a race between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, with the pizza magnate Hermann Cain experiencing a surge in the polls. However, none of the candidates have caused much of a stir.
Palin said that she plans to throw her weight behind the Republican nominee - although she declined to support any one candidate - and said that she can be of more help from outside the race:
My decision is based upon a review of what commonsense conservatives and independents have accomplished, especially over the last year. I believe that at this time I can be more effective in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants to office - from the nation's governors to Congressional seats and the presidency.
She may not be entering the presidential race, but Palin will not be disappearing from our screens any time soon.