Latest leg of Palin bus tour wraps up after four days

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin greets the crowd after she was interviewed by Sean Hannity of FOX News at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011. Palin stoked speculation anew Friday of a future presidential run, inserting herself into the 2012 conversation by visiting in Iowa during an important week in the GOP race, and just as Texas Gov. Rick Perry becomes a candidate.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin greets the crowd after she was interviewed by Sean Hannity of FOX News at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa, Friday, Aug. 12, 2011.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

After just four days on the road, the latest leg of Sarah Palin's "One Nation" bus tour has wound down - and the former Alaska governor is back in her home state working on "writing and research on strategies" and getting her children ready for the school year, according to a note on her Facebook page.

The most recent phase of the tour kicked off Friday afternoon at the Iowa State Fair, where a majority of the Republican presidential candidates were preparing to compete in Ames' closely-watched straw poll.

Palin, who has yet to announce whether or not she will run for president, did not compete in the straw poll - and maintained that her presence should not be taken as an attempt to upstage the other candidates.

"I don't think I'm stealing any spotlight," she told reporters. "In fact, if anybody thinks I'm stealing the spotlight, go! Go find the other folks and say hello."

The following day, the Palin bus headed to former president Ronald Reagan's childhood home in Dixon, Illinois, and then to his alma mater of Eureka College.

"This is one of those places everyone in America should come to get a sense of Ronald Reagan's foundation -- to understand his humbleness and graciousness," she told NBC, which was, according to Politico, the only major news network still following Palin's bus at this juncture.

In the last two days of the Palin tour, the former vice presidential candidate toured the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Ill., and made stops in Kansas City, Mo.

National coverage of the bus's goings-on appeared to have dropped off dramatically at this stage of the tour, as major news networks focused instead on covering President Obama's own bus tour through the Midwest, as well as appearances by leading GOP contenders like Rick Perry.

Despite the much-publicized rollout of the "One Nation" tour, the famously coy politician has logged only minimal hours on the bus this summer. In June, at what was seemingly supposed to be the height of the event, the tour went on an extended hiatus - which Palin attributed to jury duty.

The tour was initially touted on the SarahPAC website as "part of our new campaign to educate and energize Americans about our nation's founding principles" and, along with a build-up of staff, the Iowa release of a pro-Palin documentary, and her reported purchase of a house in Arizona, it seemed to suggest she was laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign.

But many are skeptical that Palin is still interested in getting into the race. If she does run, the campaign will almost certainly be highly unorthodox, even experimental.

Regardless, the former governor is declining to say when she will announce a decision.

"There's still a lot of contemplation that needs to go into such a life-changing, earth-shattering decision," she told told reporters in Iowa. "When we're ready to announce when we are or not, you guys are not going to miss the announcement."

She does say, however, that the family will be "back on the road" on September 3, for a Tea Party rally in Waukee, Iowa.

"We hope to see many of you there as we gather to discuss the direction of our country and the way forward with our fundamental restoration of all that is good and strong and free in America," she wrote on Facebook.

In the meantime, Palin said she's gearing up for the Alaska state fair - an event she says she can enjoy without the "woosh" of the national media attention.

"Well, you know, when I'm in Alaska we don't have this woosh of you [the media], so I can do that at the Alaska state fair, which I'll be doing in about a week," Palin told Hotsheet's senior political reporter Brian Montopoli, of enjoying the festivities like an average American. "I look forward to that too."