Sarah Palin campaign gets a kick-start, but will she run?

Seen until now as amorphous and dull, the field of Republicans positioning themselves potentially to take on President Barack Obama in next year's presidential race was exhibiting some electricity yesterday thanks to a bus, some motorbikes and a certain former governor of Alaska.

While most polls still give front-runner status to the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who will formally launch his repeat bid for the White House in New Hampshire this Thursday, the eyes of grassroots Republicans and the media were last night on Sarah Palin as she pulled out of Washington DC in a colourfully painted bus for what was advertised as tour of historic sites in the eastern United States.

Ms Palin, who for months has been teasing everyone about her intentions regarding the 2012 race, kicked off the week-long tour with a chaotic appearance at a veterans' motorcycle rally on the Washington mall. It was an intrusion that was not especially welcomed by the organisers.

"She certainly is a major factor," Senator John McCain, who launched Ms Palin into the political stratosphere by choosing her as his running mate in 2008, told Fox News yesterday. But like everyone else, he could not say exactly what she was up to. "Whether she'll even run or not, I don't know," he said.

Even the bus tour retained a degree of mystery yesterday, with no word on its precise itinerary and nothing by way of details on the website that announced it. We do know it will end in New Hampshire and likely stops along the way include the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and Civil War battlefields at Gettysburg and Antietam.

The website offers a brief audio message from Ms Palin, sounding like someone who wants to run. "We have a vision for our country and it is a vision anchored in time-tested truths," she begins, before offering the Tea Party bromide: "The Constitution provides the best road map for a more perfect union."

Her site also contains several postings from Ms Palin on her favourite topic – the wretchedness of the "lamestream media", as she calls the US press. "Goodness, cleaning up the sloppiness of reporters could be a full time job," one begins.

It is not just Ms Palin's manoeuvrings that has the Republican Party suddenly on alert, however. The Republican Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, on Friday suggested for the first time that he might consider running, despite previously insisting that he wouldn't. His entry, if it comes, would drastically alter the dynamics of the contest. He is deeply conservative and has never lost an election.

"I'm going to think about it," Governor Perry conceded. "I think about a lot of things."

Unsettling the picture further is news that Republican grandees in New Hampshire – which traditionally holds the first of the nomination primaries on the heels of the first caucus-style voting in Iowa – will be cheering Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York, at a fundraising event on Thursday.

Mr Giuliani, who will be the keynote speaker, may thus be thinking of pitching his hat into the ring. If he does so, he will presumably be blocking out memories of his campaign sputtering to nowhere in 2008.

Ms Palin's arrival amid the Harley-Davidson-riding veterans, all members of a charitable organisation called Rolling Thunder, caused the inevitable commotion as reporters and fans crowded to glimpse her. Dressed in black leather and on the back of a bike, she led a contingent heading out of a car park at the Pentagon. Later she set off on her bus to the National Archives to view the Constitution.

"I'm not very appreciative of the way she came in here," remarked Ted Shpak, Rolling Thunder's national legislative director. "If she wanted to come on the ride, she should have come in the back."

The Republican contenders

Tim Pawlenty The former governor of Minnesota was the first mainstream candidate to announce his intentions to run. He may attract support from independents and conservatives, but is seen by some as lacking the toughness to take on Barack Obama.



Mitt Romney A familiar face from 2008, he leads a new Gallup poll of likely runners. Counting against him are his Mormonism and the Obama-like health bill he passed as Governor of Massachusetts. He is unpopular among some Tea Party activists. However he has a solid fund-raising operation that raised $10m in a single day last week.



Newt Gingrich After announcing earlier this month, he has stumbled by criticising his own party's budget proposal and failing to explain a $500,000 revolving line of credit he has had at Tiffany's. His woes in the first week of campaigning were compounded when a gay rights campaigner dumped glitter on him at a book signing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
The two faces revealed by the ultraviolet light
newsScholars left shaken after shining ultraviolet light on 500-year-old Welsh manuscript
News
Rosamund Pike played Bond girld Miranda Frost, who died in Die Another Day (PA)
news
Arts and Entertainment
books
News
newsHow do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? With people like this
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat