WASHINGTON (AP) — Sarah Palin rumbled through Washington on the back of a Harley as she and her family began an East Coast tour Sunday, renewing speculation that the former Alaska governor would join the still unsettled Republican presidential contest.

Wearing a black leather jacket and surrounded by a throng of cheering fans, Palin and family members jumped on bikes and joined thousands of other motorcyclists on the Memorial Day weekend ride from the Pentagon to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Palin didn’t mention politics as she visited with participants, but she smiled broadly when many in the crowd urged her to run.

When one man asked her if she was running, she smiled and answered, “Don’t know.”

Palin remains one of the biggest questions for Republicans, who have not yet settled on a frontrunner to challenge President Barack Obama’s re-election. While many of Palin’s likely rivals have worked to build campaign organizations in early nominating states such as Iowa or New Hampshire, Palin has taken no concrete steps to begin a presidential campaign.

Given Palin’s star power, she might be able to wait longer than others. But the clock is ticking, the establishment isn’t happy with its options and one of the earliest tests of campaign infrastructure, the straw poll in Ames, Iowa, is scheduled for August.

Palin showed no hints she would join the field on Sunday although she again demonstrated her ability to build excitement and practice the person-to-person, retail politics that she clearly loves. In heels and black flare slacks, Palin shook hands and posed for pictures with well-wishers.

“How do you wear all this leather and stay cool?” she asked one woman. Palin asked others to show off their tattoos as she took off her own leather jacket and worked her way through a crush of fans, photographers and reporters.

Just before Palin, husband Todd and daughters Bristol and Piper rolled from the Pentagon’s parking lot, she gave a thumbs-up to a military police officer who asked if he could snap a picture while taking a break from directing traffic.

On the windshield of Palin’s bike: a likeness of President George W. Bush. Next to it, the words “Miss Me?” And on her hand, the words “justice rolls” were written in smeared ink.

It was an apparent reference to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, which is quoted on Palin’s website: “We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Palin didn’t take questions from reporters and, in keeping her social media strategy, offered her thoughts on her political website.

“There’s no better way to see D.C. than on the back of a Harley!” Palin wrote. “My family may be used to snowmachines more so than motorcycles.”

Palin, whom Sen. John McCain elevated from an obscure governor to national star, set off from Washington on a tour of East Coast historical sites. Her political committee billed the swing as an opportunity for her family to visit historic sites as they worked their way to New England.

Aides and advisers to Palin were not releasing a schedule for the trip and refused to offer guidance. Instead, they pointed to the website of Palin’s political action committee, which is prominently collecting donations ahead of the end-of-June fundraising quarter.

On her Facebook page late Sunday, Palin wrote: “Took an incognito tour of our beautiful national monuments tonight. We met some great everyday citizens who were also `taking it all in’ in honor of the greatest nation on earth.”

Palin’s trip set off speculation she would visit New Hampshire, the state that holds the first nominating primary and a place Palin hasn’t visited since the final days of the 2008 campaign.

Many of Palin’s potential rivals were scheduled to visit New Hampshire in the coming week, including another tea party favorite: Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was expected to make formal his bid during a noon barbecue on Thursday. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was set to speak at a fundraiser for the state GOP. Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman — who also rides motorcycles — is spending the weekend working through the state’s rural North Country.

And former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty visited New Hampshire last week, just days after he formally declared himself a candidate while in Iowa. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also campaigned in a state that is emerging as a linchpin for many of the campaigns already rolling.

Yet others could still enter the race. Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday hinted he could start campaigning for a job he once ruled out. Former New York Gov. George Pataki is running television ads in New Hampshire and speaking out against Obama. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has insisted he’s not running; his supporters don’t believe him.

Palin, who abruptly resigned the Alaska governor’s office before completing her first term, has worked to sustain a national profile. She’s a contributor to Fox News Channel, a best-selling author and a reality television star. She has a loyal following among conservatives and tea-party activists, but she remains a divisive figure among the wider public. Polls show more people have an unfavorable opinion of her than not.

In recent weeks Palin has made changes to her insular circle of advisers. She also authorized a feature-length film about her political rise and her supporters are putting together a campaign-in-waiting in Iowa.

Should she run, she’d have to leave Fox’s lucrative payroll.

Should she come up short of the nomination, she’d lose some of her cachet. And Sunday proved she can create buzz without being a candidate.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (16)
  1. Kathy says:

    Sarah Palin is a BIG JOKE!!!!!! No one is interested in her for the presidency or anything else. She quit Alaska when the going got tough. Anyone with half a brain isn’t interested in anything she has to say. She is a disgrace to the American woman.

    GO HOME Palin.

  2. Pat says:

    Are you implying that you don’t want your next president to be a “biker chick?” LOL!

  3. Eric says:

    Kathy, you don’t know what you are talking about. Sarah Palin has a lot of fans who would like to see her as President. She is plainspoken and knows what she believes. She not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. She is pro-life and lives it everyday with her Downs’ Syndrome child. She is pro-capitalism and has actually run a business with her husband. She knows how jobs are created. The left wing in this country is afraid of her candidacy more than any other which is why they try to tear her down at every opportunity.

    1. suitecoffee4us says:

      I totally agree Eric. The left is defiantly running scared.

    2. MaryM says:

      Have you actually listened to her? She talks the talk the crowd she is talking to wants to hear. If the next crowd feels differently, don’t worry she’ll tell them what they want to hear. If she is plainspoken because she doesn’t know any facts or concrete points to base her speeches on so she speaks in generalities. Walks the walk????? Who the heck is taking care of her child? She isn’t, she doesn’t have time. If she had actually been a hockey mom her daughter wouldn’t have made her a grandmother. Having a Downs Syndrome child does not make her a great mother. There are rumors the child is not really hers but her daughters first child. Pro-life is a catch phrase she throws around because it gets her votes, every republican candidate knows this. Even if she believes in pro-life this is not enough. She has proven herself to be a quitter. She had no fire in her belly to fight the indictments against her in Alaska, did she. No one, left wing or right wing is “afraid” of her. She is a piece of cheese cake trying to masquerade as a standing rib roast.

  4. DonKool says:

    The lefties are so scared of Gov. Palin that they can’t think straight. It is hilarious. Sarah looked HOT in her leathers riding a bike. Two things that Mrs. Bill Clinton could never do. The liberal elite just can’t stand her because she is actually of the people and we all know that they despise the “great unwashed”. All the liberals want to do is patronize and lord over real Americans (and of course make sure that there are plenty of federal tax dollars available to kill black babies).

    1. JQP says:

      Maybe it isn’t clear for some people, but there are some issues that all American voters can agree on… we all want to be able to feed, clothe and house our families, we all want to be able to take care of our families’ health and well being. We all, I think want to be able to educate our children properly. Does that make me a “lefty” or a “right-winger”? I don’t know or care what you call me, I am a voter and I vote for honest people…which means I don’t often get the opportunity to vote. With candidates who make a mockery of our political system by turning it into a joke or use it as a means of boosting their egos, we are as degraded as the rest the world believes us to be. Sara Palin and Donald Trump are humiliating us…and if you don’t see it, you are right ere with them. Embarrassing.

    2. MaryM says:

      My ancestors came here back in the mid 1600’s. I am as much a “real” American as you or anyone else. How dare you? Scared of Palin? No one is scared of Palin. Irritated by her to the max because she will get votes because of immature people who will vote for her because she looks “HOT” in her leathers. I am a liberal. I am a REAL American. do not dare to tell me you have a better vision of what this country could be because you like the way she looks in leathers. Education can be acquired by anyone, why not give it a try?

  5. Pat says:

    Yes, You are right it scares me that she could become President. She is not answering any political questions because it is easier to let everyone else answer the questions so she can see what the voters want then that will be her stance. The fact that she left her responsibilities as Governor of Alaska with no good reason shows she is scattered. There has to be a better candidate in either party, please God! As for her Downs Syndrome child , bless her for giving him life but with all her campaigning and traveling “she” is not raising him!

    1. JQP says:

      My sentiments exactly.

    2. MaryM says:

      She had good reasons to leave her post she was under indictment and there were threats of even more. I’m surprised she stayed in the state as long as she did.

  6. JackDaniels says:



  7. Wheres common sense when you need it says:

    Mrs Palin is doing exactly what the GOP and the Tea Party want, that is bring attention to the race. But to think of her as the President, come on. There are things I like about her. She is plain spoken (in a way), she is pro gun, pro capitialism, and gets her message out in an effective way. But she is pro life, she can see Russia from her house, and blames reporters for triping her up when questioned about the simplest things, and quit as the governor without finishing the job she said say would do. These are definantly turn offs. I do think she is an intelligent person, but I do think she turns and goes to where ever the money will come from to make her pockets fat. Whether that be politics, TV deals, books, etc isn’t a bad thing but that is the life of a player, not as some one who I want to run this country. I think a farmer who has to consentrate on how to keep his family afloat and keep his farm, or a single parent who works hard to raise their children the right way and provide for them, or a teacher who gets up every morning and goes to work to try to teach a bunch of kids who do no wrong and can never be punished for any wrong doing only to come home and listen to how they make to much money and have to good of benifits and watch their retirement mismanaged away would do a much better job running this country than any candidate, whether left or right. The politicians now are such a joke and have made such a mocary of running our nation that people like Palin seem normal and gain traction in the polls. This is what has given a black eye to the GOP as well as the Dems and our government in general. If we don’t move to the center and start keeping things balanced, then we will fall. And with the downward direction we are going now, she would be just as good as any other of the candidates we have now at continuing our current course.

  8. MaryM says:

    I am so upset she stopped in Baltimore. She must have realized she needed a photo op for Memorial Day and Baltimore was the only one she was near. Can’t this woman stay the heck away from here? She makes me ill. I am sick of her mugging for the camera’s, playing at being a candidate, wasting time. Her logical step after being a failed governor was a layout in Playboy followed by a reality show. Nothing more.

  9. MaryM says:

    Palin and Trump are two of a pair except he had the intelligence to see he was throwing his money away on a run for the presidency. Actually, he has intelligence. She is plainspoken because she has to be, she doesn’t know enough to speak in details. I would have loved to have a woman president but not her. I would prefer someone who has it all (intelligence, experience and the ability to answer simple questions) and that is Hillary Clinton and I doubt she would run against Obama. I would not vote for her over Obama now.

  10. TIRED OF THE DRAMA says:


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