Sarah Palin said Monday she still hasn't decided whether she's running for president in 2012.
But her "One Nation" bus tour, which kicked off Sunday in Washington, appears to be a serious test of whether she can run for the White House by skipping what has long been a key requirement for most major political candidates: interaction with the media.
For the past two days, Palin, her family, and a handful of political aides have slowly made their way up the East Coast, stopping at key historical sites along the way. Aside from alerting the media to her campaign-like tour last week, Palin's political operation has offered virtually no details about her schedule, prompting dozens of reporters to literally stalk her hundreds of miles through three states in recent days.
Yesterday, dozens of reporters were awaiting Palin's expected visit to the battlefields at Gettysburg when word broke that the former Alaska governor's entourage had actually landed at a hotel down the road, according to the New York Times' Michael Shear.
And this morning, Palin ditched reporters again. Her aides backed up her tour bus to the back entrance of the hotel and allowed reporters and supporters to wait for her, while she slipped out the front entrance into a waiting SUV.
The media finally caught up with Palin at the Gettysburg battlefields. At a later stop at a diner somewhere in central Pennsylvania, Palin's husband, Todd, spoke to a small group of reporters, telling them he's not pushing his wife one way or another on a 2012 bid--though he added the family has been "tested" and is "prepared" if she chooses to run.
Asked if reporters would be allowed to ride with Palin on her bus as they were in the 2008 campaign, Todd Palin offered a cryptic response. "It's a different scenario," he said, per CNN's Peter Hamby." "She's employed by Fox."
Indeed, aside from an impromptu Q&A with reporters at her hotel Monday after they caught her near an elevator, Palin's only extensive interview of the trip has been with Fox News' Greta van Susteren, which is expected to air tonight.
In an excerpt of the interview, Palin defended her lack of interaction with the "mainstream media," by insisting she's not on a campaign or "publicity seeking tour."
"I don't think I owe anything to the mainstream media," she said. "It would be a mistake for me to become some sort of 'conventional politician' and do things the way they have always been done in terms of the media and a relationship with them … No, I want them to have to do a little bit of work on a tour like this."
You can watch the excerpt of van Susteren's interview with Palin below, via FoxNewsInsider:
Palin, who noted that she's writing her own stories about the tour on her website, insisted her campaign-style jaunt is not about her--but rather "highlighting the great things about America. "
Still, given the tone of her comments to Fox, it's hard not imagine Palin isn't viewing the tour as a dry-run for a potential 2012 campaign--and whether she could get away with running for president without explicitly engaging the media. So far, it appears she's getting plenty of coverage either way.
(Photo of Palin at Gettysburg: Timothy Jacobsen/AP)
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