Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, said Wednesday that she won’t be running for president in 2012.
Palin made the announcement on the Mark Levin radio show, saying her family’s wishes were the main factor in her decision. But she also said she felt she could have the most impact by supporting other like-minded candidates.
"I am very thankful that included in a list of supporters in my life are my family members," Palin told the conservative talk show host. "They do support this decision. They came first, the consideration of what a candidacy does to or for a family. That weighed heavily."
Palin’s announcement came a day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he, too, would resist the call to run for the GOP nomination. It ended months of intense speculation about whether Palin would get into the race, with her core group of diehard supporters arguing there was still time and she could win.
But time is running out for someone new to make an impact. South Carolina now plans to hold its first-in-the-South primary Jan. 21, meaning Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to hold their contests earlier in January.
That leaves about three months for campaigning. Palin, though, has a rabid following and a proven ability to raise lots of money.
Palin’s decision means that, for better or worse, the Republican presidential field for the 2012 nomination is almost certainly set. Christie had been considered the best bet of seriously challenging the two Republican front-runners, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Because of Perry’s stumbles in recent debates, Romney has vaulted back into a lead in some presidential preference polls. But the polls also show voters are still open-minded about a candidate.
Palin said she’d still play a role in national politics. She said she expected to be active in trying to defeat President Barack Obama and support like-minded candidates running for Congress and in races for governor across the country.
"I believe not being a candidate you’re really unshackled and you’re allow to be even more active," Palin said.
Palin issued a letter, which Levin read, saying that "after much prayer and serious consideration" she would not seek the 2012 Republican nomination. Palin told Levin she also would not run as a third party candidate.
"I would assume a third party would just guarantee Obama’s re-election," Palin said.
Palin thanked her supporters in the tea party movement, people she called "Americans who are independent and patriotic and know our republic is worth defending."
Palin’s announcement appeared to come as a surprise to some of her most ardent fans. More than an hour after she was on the Levin show, Palin had not posted anything on her Facebook page, which she often uses to communicate with supporters.
The page instead featured a post from Sept. 28 in which she offered Rosh Hashanah greetings and some of the commenters on her page doubted the truth of the report she wasn’t running.
The Conservatives4Palin website, which on Wednesday still had columns touting her chances to win the presidency, didn’t post the news that she wasn’t running until well after it was out.
Palin’s letter, which was eventually posted on her political action committee website, said that "in the coming weeks I will help coordinate strategies to assist in replacing the President, re-taking the Senate, and maintaining the House."
Palin had been relatively quiet in recent weeks, after a Labor Day weekend visit to Iowa that drew supporters from around the nation and a June bus tour to historical landmarks around the country.
Her letter announcing that she wouldn’t run is datelined Wasilla, but she has largely been out of sight in Alaska since resigning a little more than halfway through her term as governor in 2009. She plays no role in the state’s politics, and sightings of her in her home state are few and far between.
Her poll numbers in Alaska have not been good, and a late June poll suggested Obama would beat Palin among Alaskans in a head-to-head race.
A McClatchy-Marist poll from last month found that Palin appeared to be gaining ground nationally. After trailing Obama by more than 20 percentage points in polls all year, the new national survey, taken Sept. 13-14, found her trailing the president by just 5 points, 49-44 percent.
Palin’s Wednesday letter focused on what she considers to be her ongoing role influencing national politics, saying that she "will continue driving the discussion for freedom and free markets."
"We must reduce tax burdens and onerous regulations that kill American industry, and our candidates must always push to minimize government to strengthen the economy and allow the private sector to create jobs," Palin wrote.
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