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Sarah Palin hints at U.S. presidential bid

Sarah Palin is dropping more hints of a presidential bid, including a visit Saturday to the key state of Iowa, which holds one of the first primary contests of the campaign.

Sarah Palin is dropping ever more hints of a presidential bid, including a planned visit Saturday to the key state of Iowa, which holds one of the first primary contests of the campaign.

The official purpose of her trip to suburban Des Moines is to promote her new book America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag. But Democratic and Republican insiders will search for every possible hint of whether she will seek the nomination to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

Palin, the former Alaska governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee, has fed such speculation in recent days. She told ABC's Barbara Walters she thinks she could beat Obama, adding, "I'm looking at the lay of the land now."

In a separate interview, Obama told Walters, "I don't think about Sarah Palin." He added that Palin has "a strong base of support in the Republican Party, and I respect those skills."

Palin will attend a second book-signing event next week in Iowa, which holds the country's first presidential caucuses in 13 months.

Some political pros suspect it's a tease, a way for Palin to keep drawing big crowds to her lucrative TV show and books while avoiding the nitty-gritty work of organizing a national campaign, wooing hard-to-impress caucus voters and raising millions of dollars.

Others warn against underestimating her ambition or her ability to snatch the Republican nomination from a dozen men who covet it.

"She may run away with it, and that's something everybody has to be prepared for," said Mike Huckabee, who won the 2008 Iowa Republican caucus. He is weighing another presidential run, and some feel he wants to set high expectations for a possible rival.

While Palin's fans are loyal and legion, the prospect of her running for president alarms some Republicans. They think Palin is too polarizing and too inexperienced to defeat Obama, even if Republicans in general can maintain the momentum of their powerful performance in this month's midterm elections.

Her foreign policy gaffe Wednesday kept the question alive. She declared on Glenn Beck's syndicated radio show that the United States has to stand with "our North Korean allies" in connection with tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Her mistake was quickly corrected by her host. But it drew immediate fire from liberal bloggers who cited it as an example of her lack of foreign policy expertise.

Newspapers in Asia and Europe echoed the criticism. The Times of India said Palin "did it again," while London's Daily Mail said she "may want to brush up on her geography."

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