Sarah Palin: Reality TV to the White House?

The debut of "Sarah Palin's Alaska" drew just under five million viewers Sunday night, making the reality show starring the former governor and vice presidential candidate (and her family) the top-rated series premiere in cable network TLC's history.

On Washington Unplugged Monday, a panel discussed what impact the show will have on Palin's White House prospects.'s Charles Ellison, host of "The New School" on SiriusXM radio, said he doubts Palin plans to run in 2012.

"I think really this was all some sort of scheme to make more money, more book tours," Ellison said. "I just don't see her making a really serious run in 2012."

But Real Clear Politics' Scott Conroy, co-author of the book "Sarah From Alaska," sees it differently.

"For her to sit out the next presidential campaign would be extremely difficult for her on a personal level to do. She's surrounded by people telling her she has to run, this is her time," Conroy said.

CBS News political analyst John Dickerson said he thinks the timing of Palin's reality show and an upcoming 16-city tour to promote her new book "America by Heart" hints at a possible run in 2012.

Dickerson also pointed to recent Gallup polling that has Palin's unfavorable rating at a sky-high 52 percent, which could signal trouble should she take the plunge.

Incidentally, while Palin's debut broke a TLC record, she still needs about six million more viewers to beat the network's ratings champ: the 10.6 million who tuned into see the separation episode on "Jon & Kate Plus Eight."

"Washington Unplugged" also featured an interview with Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Watch the episode above.

"Washington Unplugged,"'s exclusive daily politics Webshow, appears live on each weekday at 12:30 p.m. ET. Click here to check out previous episodes.

  • Tolleah Price

    Tolleah Price is an associate producer for