Updated: 7:36 p.m. ET
Sarah Palin announced Wednesday evening that she is not going to run for president in 2012.
The candidate, who inspired months of speculation regarding a possible presidential bid, announced her decision in an interview Wednesday with conservative radio host Mark Levin.
Levin read a statement from Palin announcing the decision before speaking to the former vice presidential nominee on his show.
In the statement, Palin cited family considerations and said she thought she could be more effective in helping others get elected.
"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," the statement reads. "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."
CBSNews.com special report: Election 2012
It continues: "My decision is based upon a review of what common sense Conservatives and Independents have accomplished, especially over the last year. I believe that at this time I can 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."
Speaking with Levin following his reading of the statement, Palin ruled out the possibility of running as a third party candidate -- a prospect which she said would "guarantee" President Obama's re-election.
"I would assume that a third party would just guarantee Obama's reelection," she said, dismissing the option.
Despite months of apparent ambivalence over whether or not to run, Palin said Wednesday she knew "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that she had made the right decision.
"I do want to assure people this has been prayer-fully considered, and my family and I with great discussion and literally family prayer over this situation...I know I've had great confirmation: I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I can be on the right path-- not as a candidate for president at this time," she said.
Palin said that by abstaining from a presidential bid, she would be able to "branch out more."
She told Levin, "I am going to join you in the mission to wake up country."
"I can be more effective and aggressive in a supportive role....calling our the wrong-headedness of leaders leading us down this path," she said. "I believe I can branch out more."
Though Palin was once considered a forceful possible contender in the 2012 contest for the Republican presidential nomination, many among the GOP establishment have signaled in recent months that a Palin candidacy would not get their support.
Voters, too, have provided little incentive for Palin to get in: In the latest CBS News poll, 74 percent of Republican primary voters did not want Sarah Palin to run for president. Only 23 percent wanted to see her run.
Still, some believed that if she had entered the race, Palin could have
Ultimately, however, Palin told Levin she had to look out for the best interests of her family.
"Family does come first," she said.
Of her plans for the future, Palin was characteristically coy.
"We'll see what the future holds in terms of me personally in a political career, but in the meantime, all of us, let's join together to wake up America, put us back on the right path. We all have a role to play in this," she said.
In a tweet responding to the news, John McCain, R-Ariz., whose selection of Palin as his running mate in 2008 skyrocketed her to fame, said he was confident Palin would "continue to play an important role in our Party."
"Sarah announces she's not running for president - I am confident she'll continue to play an important role in our Party and for our nation," he Tweeted.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry released a statement Wednesday night calling Palin a "good friend" and a "true patriot."
"Sarah Palin is a good friend, a great American and a true patriot. I respect her decision and know she will continue to be a strong voice for conservative values and needed change in Washington," he said.
Echoing that sentiment in a Wednesday night statement, Minnesota Rep. and GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann called Palin a "dear friend" and a "strong voice for the conservative movement."
"Governor Palin is a dear friend of mine and I think the world of her. She has been a strong voice for the conservative movement," Bachmann said. "She has a lifetime of opportunities ahead of her."
Read the full text of the Palin statement below:
October 5, 2011
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. 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.
My decision is based upon a review of what common sense Conservatives and Independents have accomplished, especially over the last year. I believe that at this time I can 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.
From the bottom of my heart I thank those who have supported me and defended my record throughout the years, and encouraged me to run for President. Know that by working together we can bring this country back - and as I've always said, one doesn't need a title to help do it.
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. 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.
Those will be our priorities so Americans can be confident that a smaller, smarter government that is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people can better serve this most exceptional nation.
In the coming weeks I will help coordinate strategies to assist in replacing the President, re-taking the Senate, and maintaining the House.
Thank you again for all your support. Let's unite to restore this country!
God bless America.
- Sarah Palin