Palin lays groundwork for 2012 presidential bid

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The Independent US

Sarah Palin, John McCain's polarising running-mate in his doomed presidential bid, is discreetly putting down markers for a 2012 run of her own, in a low-key tour of the US this week.

The Alaska Governor joined an autism charity's fundraising march in upstate New York yesterday, one of a number of small-scale events designed to cast her as a serious political figure and erase memories of the national lampooning she suffered as the Republican presidential campaign fell apart last year.

As well as associating herself with soft causes, she will reprise a key campaign theme, scattering the week with meetings to discuss energy independence and press for more oil drilling.

At one event in Auburn, New York, over the weekend, Palin was greeted by the crowd with a revised version of her campaign-trail mantra of "Drill, baby, drill". As she arrived on the podium, the 20,000-strong audience erupted in a chant of "Run, Sarah, run."

While Ms Palin has taken time out from national political campaigning to allow the dust to settle on her disastrous vice-presidential bid, she has put in place some of the early infrastructure needed for a 2012 challenge to President Barack Obama. In January, she formed a political action committee to raise funds for candidates committed to energy independence and "conservative principles".

And she has continued to be a rallying figure for the Republican base, which Mr McCain had hoped to energise with his pick of running-mate and which is likely to form the core of any appeal to primary voters by Ms Palin in three years time.

A speech in Anchorage last week, introducing Michael Reagan, son of the late president Ronald Reagan, who is now a talk radio host, was classic Palin and has earned her a second life on the internet.

She praised Mr Reagan for his willingness "to screw the political correctness that some would expect him to try to adhere to" and condemned "self-proclaimed intellectuals, and the smug lobbyists who dominate Washington, and the liberal media".

Ms Palin is being accompanied on the week-long tour of the lower states by her husband, Todd, her 14-year-old daughter, Willow, and other members of her family, but only two political aides.

Members of the media are not being alerted to any of the events.

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