Sarah Palin still grabs limelight, even away from GOP convention

When the Republican National Convention kicks off Monday in Tampa, the star of the 2008 GOP gathering, Sarah Palin, will be 2,000 miles away in Arizona, campaigning for congressional candidates. But don’t bet against the former Alaska governor finding a bit of the limelight anyway.

Palin will be in little Gilbert, Ariz., helping serve up barbecue Monday afternoon alongside congressional hopeful Kirk Adams and later stumping for a couple of incumbent Republican congressmen, Jeff Flake and Paul Gosar.

If Palin will miss being at the big dance with Mitt Romney and other Republicans in Florida, she showed no sign of it in a Fox News interview Saturday. She chatted merrily about her plans for the coming days, in the familiar sing-song cadences (and run-on, multiclause sentences) that became her trademark in 2008.

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“I’m making sure to get out there around the country,” Palin said, “and sometimes supporting underdogs — those that are underfunded, underpresented in terms of name recognition and surrogates out there on the political scene — making sure that those that need to be put on the map — because their message is the right message and their intentions are right — are heard from.”

A viewer unhappy with both sides in the presidential campaign asked whether they should simply not vote. Palin urged the woman to “give Romney a shot,” stressing the importance of removing President Obama and ending his policies, including the healthcare law she called “the mother of all unfunded mandates.”

Asked about the potential creation of a third party, Palin offered a bit of history and said it could happen again someday if Republicans don’t adhere to their principles.

“You know in studying history, look what happened in the mid-1800s when the Whig Party went away and the Republican Party surfaced because people, the electorate, got sick and tired of both parties fighting for power and [not] doing the will of the people,” Palin said. “That’s why the Republican Party rose up.

“So, you know, if history is any indication, it’s certainly a possibility at some point if Republicans don’t remember what the planks in their platform represent. And the planks in the platform are all about equality. They are about equal opportunity, to prosper and thrive in the most exceptional nation in the world, and how do we do that through a free market .”

That’s the way she said it. And with a smile.

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Another viewer wondered whether Palin, who quit office before her term was over, would run for governor of Alaska again. The viewer got the opposite of a “you betcha” response.

“I would much rather be able to work on unlocking Alaska’s vast resources,” Palin said, “the largest state in the union, so rich in oil and gas and zinc and iron and copper and gold and the world’s richest wild seafood fisheries in … on our planet. I would rather work on unlocking our resources to help secure our nation for solvency for our sovereignty as a union than be holed up in Juneau again.”

So the star of Convention 2008 makes her way modestly into the brave new world of Convention 2012, where a new V.P. star, Paul D. Ryan, is due to be crowned. Far from the center stage, she’s bound to still find her way into the conversation.