Sarah Palin and the "America by Heart" book tour

Sarah Palin has pundits wondering where the book tour ends and the campaign trail begins.

Some are calling Palin's book tour a “warm up lap for a presidential campaign.”

Sarah Palin is taking the country by storm. Or at least the Midwest, the South, and several predominantly Republican states, two of which play a big role in the presidential nominating process.

These are the key stops on Ms. Palin’s book tour for “America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag,” which HarperCollins released last week. It’s her first book since the million-selling memoir “Going Rogue,” and, possibly, a hint of what’s to come in 2012.

What’s more significant is where Palin isn’t touring. She will not stop in some of the nation’s biggest – and most liberal – cities: New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, or San Francisco.

Palin’s 16-stop tour includes 13 states, including Arizona, Iowa, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Two of those states – Iowa and South Carolina – are of particular importance because they play key roles in the presidential nominating process. Coincidence?

The former Alaska governor and Fox News commentator seems to be keeping politics out of her book tour, and has been unusually tight-lipped about whether she plans to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. When asked for clarification of her plans, Palin, signing books at a Borders bookstore in Des Moines, Iowa, issued the same evasive answer: “Thank you for your encouragement.”

However, she’s clearly hinted before that she’s open to the idea. “If there's nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this,” the former Alaska governor said in an interview last week on “Entertainment Tonight.”

Book tours like Palin’s are a popular way for potential candidates to test the waters before mounting active campaigns. ABC News calls Palin’s tour a “warm-up lap for a presidential campaign.” Barack Obama did it successfully with the tours promoting his book “Audacity of Hope,” and other possible Republican contenders appear to be doing the same. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is on tour for his new fictional novel, “Valley Forge.” And, reports the Los Angles Times, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, another likely Republican candidate, plans to travel to promote his forthcoming autobiography, “Courage to Stand: An American Story,” after he leaves office in January.

Whatever Palin’s plans, you can be sure Mr. Obama’s campaign team is reading up for clues.

Palin’s book, reports The New York Times, “is ... a road map to the kinds of political attacks that Ms. Palin would most likely use against President Obama should she decide to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.”

One guess what’s on David Axelrod’s nightstand.

Husna Haq is a Monitor contributor.

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