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Palin Leaves Door Open For 2012 Campaign

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said Wednesday that a woman would be good for the Republican ticket in 2012, but was coy about whether that woman might be her.

"It would be good for the ticket. It would be good for the party. I would be happy to get to do whatever is asked of me to help progress this nation," Palin told reporters at the Republican Governors Association meeting.

In a series of interviews in the wake of last Tuesday's elections, Palin said she had no problem with Republican presidential nominee John McCain, but that she resents rumors she said were spread about her and her family by the Arizona Republican's aides. She emphatically denied that she was a drag on the GOP ticket.

"I think the economic collapse had a heckuva lot more to do with the campaign's collapse than me personally," the governor said in an interview broadcast Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show.

Palin also said "There were a lot of times I wanted to shout out, 'Hey, wait a minute, it's not true.' It's pretty brutal."

Nevertheless, the relatively obscure governor of Alaska, whose selection for the ticket by McCain last August brought excitement - and controversy - to the 2008 campaign, said she would be eager to do it all again under the right circumstances.

"I'm like, OK, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door," Palin said in an interview with Fox News on Monday. Palin is indirectly but unmistakably putting her name in play as a potential presidential candidate, saying "if there is an open door in '12 or four years later, and if it is something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Her running-mate Sen. John McCain on Tuesday dismissed anonymous criticism of Palin.

"I'm so proud of her and I'm very grateful she agreed to run with me. She inspired people, she still does," McCain told Jay Leno Tuesday on the "Tonight Show" - his first interview since conceding the election. "I couldn't be happier with Sarah Palin."

McCain never directly addressed the controversy over Palin's expensive campaign wardrobe purchased by the Republican National Committee, or the statements by unidentified aides who reportedly said she was not prepared on foreign policy or other issues.

In the wide-ranging interview, Palin said she neither wanted nor asked for the $150,000-plus wardrobe the Republican Party bankrolled, and thought the issue was an odd one at the end of the campaign, considering "what is going on in the world today."

"I did not order the clothes. Did not ask for the clothes," Palin said. "I would have been happy to have worn my own clothes from Day One. But that is kind of an odd issue, an odd campaign issue as things were wrapping up there as to who ordered what and who demanded what."

"It's amazing that we did as well as we did," the governor said of the election in a separate interview with the Anchorage Daily News.

"I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years, that Americans were kind of shaking their heads like going, wait a minute, how did we run up a $10 trillion debt in a Republican administration? How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration? If we're talking change, we want to get far away from what it was that the present administration represented and that is to a great degree what the Republican Party at the time had been representing," Palin said in a story published Sunday.

In an interview broadcast on NBC's "Today" show Wednesday, Palin said she would feel comfortable with President-elect Barack Obama as commander in chief if his advisers understood threats against the United States.

"I'm comfortable with Barack Obama as our commander in chief, assuming that he has those around him who recognize .... that terrorists have not changed their minds," she said.

Palin could seek re-election in 2010 or challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Still uncertain is the fate of Sen. Ted Stevens, who is leading in his bid for another term but could be ousted by the Senate for his conviction on seven felony counts of failing to report more than $250,000 in gifts, mostly renovations on his home.

Palin told CNN she could run for Alaska Senator Ted Stevens' seat if a special election is held, even though as governor she could appoint herself to the post if a Senate seat becomes vacant.

"Now if something shifted dramatically and if it were, if it were acknowledged up there that I could be put to better use for my state in the U.S. Senate, I would certainly consider that but that would take a special election and everything else. I am not one to appoint myself or a member of my family to take the place of any vacancy," she said.

Palin's role at the Republican Governors Association conference highlights her newfound popularity.

She was scheduled to speak about the party's future at Thursday's meeting in Miami, where she will be introduced by the association's chairman, Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

She was asked Wednesday about speculation that she is the party's future

"I don't think it's me personally, I think it's what I represent," Palin told reporters. "Everyday hardworking American families - a woman on the ticket perhaps represents that. It would be good for the ticket. It would be good for the party. I would be happy to get to do whatever is asked of me to help progress this nation."

In the short run, she said, she would focus on being the governor of Alaska.

If Palin were to run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination she will likely face tough competition from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who failed in his candidacy this year; Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, among others.

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