Former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is raising new speculation in conservative circles that she is already preparing for a 2012 presidential bid. In the latest and clearest example of her plans, Palin met with some 50 national conservative leaders Wednesday in Palm Beach, Florida where she discussed economic and diplomatic policy and led some to declare that she's in the race.
"This was an indication that she's strongly considering running," said one insider. "She was very knowledgeable and gave intelligent answers, despite how she's been characterized," added the insider. "And she was extremely charming."
The meet-and-greet was organized by the conservative magazine and website Newsmax and its boss Christopher Ruddy. Palin, currently a Fox News contributor, has said Newsmax is one of her favorite news sources. Her trip sprung from an accidental meeting in June at the Belmont Stakes race in New York when Palin and Ruddy bumped into each other.
Ruddy, whose Web site helped sell 250,000 of Palin's 2008 campaign book, arranged for Palin to be interviewed by radio host Michael Reagan for an upcoming webcast dubbed "Make America Great Again." Palin will kick off the webcast campaign October 12. Her next book, America By Heart, is due out next month.
Because of its ties to conservative leaders and donors, Newsmax plays a broad role in conservative politics and is fast becoming the place for potential 2012 GOP candidates to be seen. Already Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush have stopped by for interviews. One conservative leader told Whispers that Palin's trip to Newsmax was the strongest sign yet that she's planning to run.
During her stop, Ruddy and his staff presented Palin with a faux Newsmax cover showing her running for the presidency. It was headlined: "Yes in 2012."
At a later reception and dinner, she made her case on several issues to top conservative leaders, among them, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, pundit Dick Morris, activist Ralph Reed, and John Raese, the West Virginia Republican Senate candidate who holds a surprise lead over Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin.
"This was an indication that she's strongly considering running," said one insider.
Conservatives have warmed to Palin in part because of her golden touch in picking Tea Party candidates to back in House and Senate races, giving her a ready-made support base in a presidential bid.
Pictured Above (top to bottom): Sarah Palin and Newsmax boss Christopher Ruddy entering Newsmax's offices in Palm Beach, Florida; Palin meets with Ruddy in his Palm Beach office; Palin and Ruddy in the editor's office; Palin gets a chuckle out of a faux Newsmax magazine cover that reads "YES in 2012."