Bye-Bye, Sarah Palin

The conservative firebrand exits her job as a Fox News commentator.

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Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin campaigns at an event at Van Dyke Park in Fairfax, Virginia.

Sarah Palin's days as a paid commentator for Fox News are over. This will mean a serious decline in media exposure for the former Alaska governor, and it raises doubts whether she can rise again to the level of a conservative national icon.

Palin says she was tired of preaching "to the choir" at Fox and wants a bigger platform. But chances are that she will never recover the extraordinary fame she enjoyed when she was named John McCain's vice presidential running mate on the Republican ticket in 2008. She drew huge audiences and vast media coverage, but many Americans concluded that Palin didn't know enough about the issues to be vice president.

After the 2008 election, Fox gave her a national platform as a commentator and for a while she retained a loyal following. But without a political office, a compelling message, or fresh ideas, Palin's stock sank and by the end of the 2012 presidential campaign she was not a factor.

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She didn't elaborate on her plans, but Palin does have a political action committee that has $1.2 million in the bank, and she can use that money to travel and donate to conservative candidates. She told Breitbart.com, a conservative web site, that she still wants to "shake up the GOP machine."

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Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin campaigns at an event at Van Dyke Park in Fairfax, Virginia.

She said, "I encourage others to step out in faith, jump out of the comfort zone, and broaden our reach as believers in American exceptionalism. That means broadening our audience. I'm taking my own advice here as I free up opportunities to share more broadly the message of the beauty of freedom and the imperative of defending our republic and restoring this most exceptional nation. We can't just preach to the choir. The message of liberty and true hope must be understood by a larger audience."

Palin, 48, also declared, "I was raised to never retreat and to pick battles wisely, and all in due season. When it comes to defending our republic, we haven't begun to fight."

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Regarding the 2012 election, she was typically defiant. "Conservatism didn't lose," Palin said. "A moderate Republican candidate lost after he was perceived to alienate working class Reagan Democrat and independent voters who didn't turn out for him as much as they did for the McCain-Palin ticket in 2008."

Palin was paid an estimated salary of $1 million a year by Fox.

Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog "Ken Walsh's Washington" for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com and followed on Facebook and Twitter.