Sarah Palin Inches Toward Presidential Run

In this June 29, 2010 file photo, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks to the crowd at the P.U.R.E. Ministries in Duluth, Ga. Palin has put her money where her mouth is, contributing at least $87,500 to candidates she's endorsed in the last few months. (AP Photo/Erik S. Lesser, File)
Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin.

Sarah Palin has now tiptoed a bit closer to a presidential candidacy, telling Fox News' Greta Van Susteren she could indeed see a way to make the race.

"If nobody else wanted to step up I would offer myself in the name of service to the public," she said. The fact that several others are clearly contemplating stepping up has apparently not diminished Palin's interest.

Basically, she is saying that if none of the hopefuls is sufficiently conservative for her, then she would - in the interest of the nation - throw her hat into the ring.

But Palin was quick to back away lest people get the wrong impression. She said she is in a good place now and will decide what's best for her family and the conservative movement.

"I don't need the title," she said in the interview. "I don't need for any kind of self-gratification or for personal power-seeking of my own to run for office."

The questions on Fox were friendly, as they almost always are. Presumably it's one reason Palin told an audience in Kentucky last week, "What would we do without Fox News, America? Gotta love Fox News." Other outlets - those who make up what she calls the "lamestream media" are apparently unfair.

Palin cited the case of Christine O'Donnell, the newly minted GOP senate nominee in Delaware, to prove her point. O'Donnell's past comments about hanging out with witches, opposing masturbation and decrying the "disproportionate" funding that AIDS gets over other diseases, has, along with questions about her finances, landed O'Donnell on the front pages in an unflattering way.

Palin endorsed O'Donnell, who defeated an establishment GOP candidate, Rep. Mike Castle. She says O'Donnell has been victimized by the press.

"We are learning more about Christine O'Donnell and her college years and her teenage years and her financial dealings than anybody ever even bothered to ask about Barack Hussein Obama as a candidate and now as our president," she said.

This means that in Palin's view the countless stories about Obama's real estate dealings in Chicago, his fire-breathing minister, his ancestry, his travels as a youth, his college years and, of course, his citizenship were somehow under-covered by reporters.

Palin has been raising her profile by the week.

A few days ago, she unveiled a new commercial extolling the virtues of the Tea Party movement - a video which featured her prominently but did not contain the word "Republican" anywhere in the narration.

Friday night, it was a big speech to the Iowa GOP in Des Moines. This week, in addition to her interview, it's a new campaign targeting 20 Democratic congressmenshe deems vulnerable because they were elected in 2008 from districts the McCain/Palin ticket carried.

As for the Tea Party, she has endorsed a raft of candidates who carry that banner, but not all of them. Two races are instructive.

In Iowa, Palin is supporting Terry Branstad for governor. He was governor for 16 years, left office, and now is running again. He defeated a Tea Party hopeful.

And in New Hampshire, Palin backed Kelly Ayotte for the GOP Senate nomination over a Tea Party rival.

What makes these two endorsements stand out is that Iowa and New Hampshire are the first two contests in the 2012 presidential nominating sweepstakes - contests where who you know - especially in high places - could be very useful to anyone with their eyes on the White House.

Dean Reynolds is a CBS News correspondent based in Chicago.
  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.