Simon Cowell is my inspiration, says Palin as she faces public vote

For a woman who has declared her heroes to be the authors of the US constitution, Ronald Reagan, and members of the Tea Party, the most obvious role model is not Simon Cowell. But in the new book that some observers see as the launching pad for a putative presidential bid, Sarah Palin has cited the brusque X-Factor judge as an inspiration.

A few days before her book, America By Heart, comes out, extracts leaked online have given clues to the character that the could-be leader of the free world is trying to present. As well as family-focused and fiercely moral, Ms Palin waxes lyrical about Mr Cowell - and reserves her most acid criticism for the contestants he excoriates. With no apparent awareness of the irony of her remarks given her own daughter's starring role on Dancing With The Stars, she calls the contestants victims of the "cult of self-esteem".

She adds: "No one they have encountered in their lives – from their parents to their teachers to their President – wanted them to feel bad by hearing the truth. So they grew up convinced that they could become big pop stars like Michael Jackson."

But she views the British judge differently. "Cowell can be a little harsh at times, but he upholds the highest standards, and something in us recognises and responds to that," she writes.

Fragments of Planet Palin have been raining down on the US public as her book was prepared. The media blitz points to her eyeing a presidential run, unless, that is, the chatter is simply a means of further bolstering her visibility. If so, the strategy is working. Political pundits have been engrossed by trailers from an interview with Barbara Walters. "I believe so," Ms Palin said when asked if she could defeat Barack Obama. But has she decided to run? "I'm looking at the lay of the land."

Palin's book is due out on Tuesday. As well as the paean to Cowell, there are some surprisingly tart allusions to Levi Johnston, the father of Tripp, the child her daughter Bristol was pregnant with in the 2008 campaign. "Tripp's father went on a media tour through Hollywood and New York, spreading untruths and exaggerated rhetoric," Palin writes. "It was disgusting to watch as his 15 minutes of fame were exploited by supposed adults taking advantage of a lost kid."

Ms Palin will promote the book with a tour through several states, including two trips to Iowa, a key state in the presidential primary campaign.

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