Sarah Palin won't run in 2012, but don't expect her to fade away

Sarah Palin, citing family considerations, opts out of the 2012 presidential race. Her election-season aim, she said Wednesday, is to help elect other 'true public servants' to office – and she has shown she can.

Charlie Neibergall/AP
Timothy Jacques of Bellvue, Neb., stands in the rain while waiting for former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to speak to Tea Party members during the Restoring America event, Sept. 3, in Indianola, Iowa. Sarah Palin announced she will not be running for the presidency, Wednesday.

Ending months of speculation, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced Wednesday that she’s not running for president.

Ms. Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president in 2008, had fanned talk of a possible campaign by traveling the country on a high-profile bus tour and keeping her brand well-publicized via TV and social media. But all the while, she showed few signs of mounting the kind of organizational effort required for a serious campaign.

In a letter to supporters, datelined Wasilla, Alaska, she cited her family in opting out of the 2012 race.

“After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for President of the United States,” she wrote in the letter, obtained by ABC News. “As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order.”

Palin said she felt she could be more effective “in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants to office -- from the nation’s governors to congressional seats and the presidency.”

“We need to continue to actively and aggressively help those who will stop the ‘fundamental transformation’ of our nation and instead seek the restoration of our greatness, our goodness and our constitutional republic based on the rule of law,” she said.

Had Palin decided to enter the presidential race earlier in the cycle, she could have become a top-tier contender. Even then, she would have faced an uphill climb for the nomination. Her decision to quit the Alaska governorship in 2009, after only 2-1/2 years in office, had left a bad taste with some Republicans. Some GOP critics also felt she lacked depth in her knowledge of policy, outside a few core areas, such as energy.

Still, her charisma and firm stand for conservative values meant she had, and continues to have, a loyal following among Republican voters. But as time wore on, and the nomination race got under way, her stock fell – especially as other candidates with a similar profile, such as Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, entered.

When included in recent polls of GOP voters gauging the support for GOP presidential candidates, she was down to about 10 percent. Her withdrawal, plus that of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday, means the Republican field is almost certainly set.

Now that she’s firmly out of the 2012 race, she can play the same kind of role she had in 2010, issuing endorsements and trying to shape debate without the pressure of being a candidate herself. She can also continue her lucrative contract with Fox News, in addition to other paid appearances and writings.

In her letter Wednesday, she made clear that energy and taxes would remain key issues in her agenda.

“I will continue driving the discussion for freedom and free markets, including in the race for President where our candidates must embrace immediate action toward energy independence through domestic resource developments of conventional energy sources, along with renewables,” she wrote. “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.”

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