Sarah Palin “of course” could beat incumbent Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential race, said Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) about his 2008 running mate.
“Of course, she can,” McCain said on “Fox News Sunday” today. “She can. Now, whether she will or not, whether she’ll even run or not, I don’t know.”
Palin, who was the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, kicked off a nationwide bus tour on Sunday. But the details of her bus tour – including exactly when, where, and why – are still unclear. Her staff refuses to give details of the tour, leaving reporters and political pundits puzzled over why Palin would announce the bus tour but not disclose the schedule.
Palin, her husband Todd, and their daughters Bristol and Piper, showed up at the Rolling Thunder rally in Washington, D.C., at around 11:30 a.m. today. The family joined the hundreds of thousands of riders in driving from the Pentagon parking lot to the National Mall.
Clad in a leather jacket, Palin said this was her first stop. Beyond that information, all that is known is Palin will head toward New Hampshire and visit historic sites on the East Coast.
Although Palin has not confirmed if she will run in 2012, some say her bus tour might be a strategy to drum up attention before an announcement.
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Among the GOP candidates, Palin has the highest name recognition and is leading the field along with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
In a Gallup Poll released this week, Palin beat Romney among the social conservatives of the Republican Party. But she was less popular than Romney among those that care the most about government spending and power, and business and the economy. She tied with the former Massachusetts governor among those most concerned about national security and foreign policy.
Romney has launched an exploratory committee, but has yet to formally announce his candidacy.
In the Fox interview Sunday morning, McCain noted that it is a long road to becoming the party’s nominee.
“A lot of things happen in campaigns, Chris,” the 2008 Republican presidential nominee said to Fox host Chris Wallace. “You remember, I was written off a couple of times and was able to come back. So, there’s going to be a roller coaster ride for all of them before we finally arrive at our nominee.”
While Palin certainly has the name recognition (96 percent among Republican voters), she is a polarizing figure even in her own party, according to the Gallup report on GOP 2012 candidates, released May 17.
Palin had one of the highest favorable ratings among Republican voters at 72 percent, compared to Romney’s 74 percent and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s 69 percent. But she also had a high unfavorable rating, 26 percent, compared to Romney’s 17 percent and Gingrich’s 24 percent.
Despite her divisive public image, McCain pointed to his former running mate’s resilience.
“I’ve never seen anyone as mercilessly and relentlessly attacked as I have seen Sarah Palin in the last couple of years,” said McCain. “But she also inspires great passion, particularly among the Republican faithful.”