Escalating speculation about a possible presidential run, Sarah Palin offered a teasing hint Thursday of the type of candidate she would like to see in 2012: a multi-tasking mother with experience at the state and local level who has already been a vice presidential nominee.
She said she still hadn't decided whether to become that candidate, but seemed to suggest that a recent slide in her popularity might force her to become more visible than she has been in recent months. National opinion surveys have shown that a majority of Americans view her unfavorably.
"I look at those poll numbers and I say, 'If I'm going to do this, I obviously gotta get out there and let people know who I am, what I stand for, and what my record is,' " said Palin, adding that prospective candidates need to get into the contest "soon" so that voters can begin to take their measure.
"I love competition. I love knowing that competition in a heated primary, it allows for some great debates, very heated discourse — all those things that we need for the voters to decide," she said.
In a rare public speaking engagement before a business group in suburban New York, the former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee took swipes at President Obama and members of both parties in Washington. She predicted that voters would be hungry for a nomination campaign that is "a little bit rogue" — a play on the title of her campaign memoir — and shakes up the political establishment.
Responding to questions from a moderator, she used the hourlong appearance to attack Obama, saying he was leading the country down "a road to ruin" and was failing to take the nation's fiscal problems seriously enough.
Obama's "almost European socialized-type policies are being basically crammed down our throats," she said, rattling off a string of sour economic statistics "that don't lie."
Palin styled herself as an ordinary mom who buys diapers by the case, but she also talked about "quantitative easing" and an expanded money supply in predicting that higher commodity prices would lead to rising inflation.
"No wonder Michelle Obama is telling everybody, 'Yeah, you better breast-feed your babies,' " Palin said. "I'm going, 'Yeah, you better. Because the price of milk is so high right now. Regardless of the political, do it for economic reasons.' "
Seated in an armchair on a small stage, Palin was interviewed by the head of the Long Island Assn. at the group's annual luncheon. Kevin S. Law, a former utility company executive, said beforehand that he had no interest in posing "gotcha-style" questions. But he did ask Palin about recent national opinion surveys showing that most voters viewed her unfavorably.
"In a lot of those polls, yeah, I get my butt kicked," she said.
Palin was accompanied by her daughter, Bristol, whom she described as her "entourage." She said she had asked Bristol, in their hotel room Wednesday night, to Google information about the economy in preparation for the appearance in a country club ballroom.