Palin spoke at the Iowa Republican Party’s Ronald Reagan Dinner, her influence among “Tea Party” activists strong after conservative candidates she backed won in Delaware and New Hampshire Senate primary races on Tuesday. The former Alaska governor, who was Republican Senator John McCain‘s vice presidential running mate in the 2008 campaign, was coy about whether she will join what could be a long list of challengers to Democratic President Barack Obama. She told the crowd of about 1,500 that her husband, Todd, had suggested she not go for an exercise run outdoors in Des Moines because the headlines would be, “Palin in Iowa decides to run.” And she said she liked a comment from Iowa’s Republican candidate for governor, Terry Branstad, that, “We need to stay focused on this election and not the next one.”
Iowa and New Hampshire cast the first votes in presidential nominating campaigns and potential candidates routinely stop in each state in hopes of propelling themselves into the national spotlight. Republicans expect big gains against Democratic majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate but some believe Tea Party-backed Christine O’Donnell‘s victory over a moderate Republican in Delaware probably cost the party a chance to take command of the Senate. “Those internal power struggles need to be set aside. The need is great because the cause is so great.” Palin said. Palin urged Republican leaders to spread out across the country to help rally voters, including Karl Rove, who has been harshly critical of O’Donnell. Rove was the architect of George W. Bush‘s two presidential victories. “Karl,” she said. “Karl, go to hear. You can come to Iowa, and Karl Rove and the leaders will see the light that these are normal, hard-working Americans.’ Palin’s visit to Iowa was seen by many in the crowd of 1,500 as a first step toward a possible run. “She’s looking at something for the future,” said Henry Reyhons, a Republican representative in the Iowa state legislature. While popular among conservatives, Palin still has a long way to go with other Americans.Palin promotes a traditional Republican low-tax, pro-business economic policy and aggressive foreign policy.