Sarah Palin at Iowa state fair: I'm not stealing the spotlight

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin greets visitors in the Cattle Barn, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011, at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa. AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

Sarah Palin
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin greets visitors in the Cattle Barn at the Iowa State Fair on Friday.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

DES MOINES, Iowa - Sarah Palin rolled onto the grounds of the Iowa state fair here to begin the Midwestern swing of her "One Nation" bus tour on Friday in an appearance that generated a mob of reporters and cameras as she greeted fair-goers and posed for pictures inside a building filled with cattle.

Palin, who has yet to decide on a presidential run, arrived at the state fair on the same day that many of the Republican presidential candidates were there speaking to the tens of thousands of Iowans in attendance. Much of the Washington press corps is in Iowa for the fair as well as Thursday night's debate and Saturday's straw poll.

But Palin insisted she had come simply to meet "the good people of Iowa," not to score votes. Asked if she was "looking for votes," she told CBS News: "Looking for votes? I'm looking for hands to shake, and I'm looking for fried butter on a stick and a fried Twinkie as soon as I can get there, just looking to talk to the good people of Iowa, these good hardworking farm families, I love it."

"I don't think I'm stealing any spotlight," Palin said when asked about the timing of her appearance. "In fact, if anybody thinks I'm stealing the spotlight, go! Go find the other folks and say hello."

At left, Palin at the state fair surrounded by reporters and fair-goers.

Palin refused to discuss timing of an announcement about whether she will seek the Republican presidential nomination, saying only, "When we're ready to announce -- when we are or not -- you guys are not going to miss the announcement."

"I'm not the only one who has not decided yet and is not ready to announce yet," she added. "There's still a lot of contemplation that needs to go into such a life-changing, earth-shattering decision."

As she fought her way through the scrum, I asked her if she ever wished she could walk through an event like this without attracting so much attention. ""Well, you know, when I'm in Alaska we don't have this woosh of YOU," she said. She said she looked forward to attending the Alaska State Fair in a week, which she said would be far quieter.

"But no, I mean, I appreciate the opportunity I have to meet so many good people, especially these good kids," Palin said, leaning down to great a pair of young girls.

Asked the same question, Todd Palin, who accompanied his wife at the fair, said "this is the life that we chose when she took McCain's nomination, when she ran for governor, when she ran for mayor. This isn't something new."

He said he and his wife planned to eat barbecue and see the famous "butter cow" at the fair. Palin is scheduled to appear live on Sean Hannity's Fox News show on the fairgrounds at 8 p.m.

Asked about DC pundits dismissing his wife's presidential chances, Todd Palin sarcastically said, "They're the smart ones, you know."

"After she resigned they said that she was washed up and done, right, and you guys are still here," he added. Asked if he was "gung ho" about his wife running, he replied: "No I have mixed feelings about it. It's a big step, you know." He said the decision was not his to make -- "you're not going to push either spouse into a direction that they don't want to go into" -- but added that they discussed the pros and cons of a run.

As she watched the scrum pass by the cows inside the building, with reporters and fair-goers pushing and shoving to get near Palin, one fair-goer joked, "Boy, you talk about a cattle call."

After about 45 minutes of interacting with fair-goers and reporters, the Palins were whisked off to a private lunch somewhere on the fairgrounds.

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