"After much prayer and serious consideration, I have decided that I will not be seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for president of the United States," Palin said in a statement she issued Wednesday.
"As always, my family comes first and obviously Todd and I put great consideration into family life before making this decision. When we serve, we devote ourselves to God, family and country. My decision maintains this order."
But since Palin has seemed to enjoy a reputation for "going rogue," even making that the title of her 2010 memoir, she was asked during a radio interview about the possibility of being a third-party candidate. "I would assume that a third party would just guarantee Obama's reelection, and that's the last thing the Republican party can afford," she said. "So the consideration for a third party is not there, no."
Palin was active in campaigning for and with Republicans, mostly conservatives, for the House and Senate in 2010 and appeared to be at least toying with the idea of a presidential run through much of this year. Her bus tour of the eastern United States in May brought her to Seabrook, New Hampshire, on the same day that former Massachusetts Governor and perceived frontrunner Mitt Romney was making a formal announcement of his candidacy a few miles up the coast in Stratham. In August, she turned up in Iowa on the day of the heavily publicized Ames Straw Poll and she was back in Iowa on Labor Day weekend, delivering a fiery speech to more than 2,000 Iowans, who frequently punctuated her remarks with chants of "Run, Sarah Run!"
In New Hampshire two days later, later she was again the main attraction at Tea Party Express rally that drew a Labor Day crowd of 500 to Manchester's Veterans Park. In her speeches denouncing "crony capitalism" and the insulated lives of the privileged elite, Palin has shown a rare talent for connecting with working and middle class Americans with a populist conservative message. Throughout her time in the national spotlight, beginning with Sen. John McCain's selection of her as his vice presidential running mate in September of 2008, Palin has taken on the role of champion of "hockey moms" "Joe Six-Pack" and those she calls "common-sense conservatives."
But despite her appeal to Tea Party activists, or perhaps because of it, Palin's feisty, battle-ready, rhetoric and rousing campaign style has given her a high negative rating among more "moderate," less ideologically committed Republicans. And while she managed to keep speculation about her possible candidacy alive with her travels and speeches throughout the year, political analysts have repeatedly pointed out that she did not appear to have a campaign organization and fundraising effort in place to compete with the well heeled campaigns of Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry.
While her name will not be on any ballot, Palin will be, in effect, running "at large" in a nationwide effort to win the White House and a majority of seats in Congress for the Republican Party. "I believe that at this time I can be more effective in a decisive role to help elect other true public servants to office from the nation's governors to congressional seats and the presidency." At 47, Palin is young enough to entertain thoughts of a possible candidacy in a future presidential election. For now, she will make the most of being both a celebrity and non-candidate. As she explained on the Mark Levin Show, "Not being a candidate, really you're unshackled and you're allowed to be even more active."
And she can "go rogue" if she wants to.
Photo of Sarah Palin: AP Images