Sarah Palin for president? The evidence builds

Speculation surrounding Palin's possible bid in 2012 builds, as she prepares to give a speech in Iow

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It's long been speculated that Sarah Palin, doyenne of the Tea Party movement, could be gearing up to announce a presidential bid for 2012.

Further evidence that this could be the case emerged today, with the news that Palin will be the main speaker at a $100-a-seat Republican dinner in Iowa on Friday. Iowa, the state that traditionally kicks off the presidential race, is considered politically crucial. A visit to the small state is essential for anyone considering a bid for the White House.

Palin herself is well aware of the conjecture, and teased supporters (not very subtley) at a rally over the weekend, with Fox News anchor Glenn Beck:

Evidently, I'm supposed to make a big announcement here, Glenn and I together, make some big announcement, maybe about the 2012 election or something.

The former vice-presidential candidate already has a formidable fundraising machine, which raised $865,815 in spring alone. She has kept a high-profile with speaking engagements and a regular slot on Fox News, and has retained political influence by voicing support for various anti-establishment Republican candidates and speaking at Tea Party rallies. She has also assembled a team of staff who some have described as a campaign team: these include speechwriters and consultants on domestic and foreign policy. The "Mama Grizzlies" video she released in July was touted by some as the launch of her presidential bid.

But we need not panic too much. While Palin is popular enough among party activists to potentially secure a nomination, she remains a divisive figure -- not only in the country as a whole but in her own party, with the Republican establishment unlikely to support her bid.

It's likely that Palin herself has yet to decide whether she will run as she feels out potential support. However, this visit to Iowa shows that she is very much keeping her options open.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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