Video: Palin makes high-profile appearance in Iowa
Transcript of: Palin makes high-profile appearance in Iowa
LESTER HOLT, anchor: Coming off of the drama of some of this week's state primary contests, believe it or not , not all the political focus these days is on the November midterm elections. The runup to the 2012 presidential campaign is also slowly starting to build. Tonight those handicapping the potential Republican challengers are trying to figure out what to make of Sarah Palin 's high-profile appearance this weekend in a place where presidential runs usually get off the ground. NBC 's Mike Viqueira is in Washington tonight to
tell us more. Mike: Good evening, Lester . Sarah Palin is on something of a roll, becoming a party kingmaker while at the same time defying the Republican establishment. Now the question is will she, can she try to parlay that popularity with the conservative base into a successful run for the Oval Office ? For Sarah Palin , these are heady days.
MIKE VIQUEIRA reporting: It's time for no more business as usual. It is time to take our country back.
Ms. SARAH PALIN: Fresh off a string of primary victories for candidates she endorsed, Palin got a raucous welcome last night from Republican Party faithful in Iowa , site of the first presidential battleground. Her appearance ignited a new round of speculation about her own designs on the White House . But in Des Moines , Palin played coy.
VIQUEIRA: Todd says, 'I don't know, I think you should go downstairs, run on that treadmill.' And I said, why would I want to stay indoors? Todd says, 'Because I guarantee you, if anybody spots you in the tennis shoes the headline's going to be -- Vanity Fair , they're going to say " Palin , in Iowa , decides to run."'
Ms. PALIN: They call us wacky. They call us wing nuts. We call us we, the people.
Ms. CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: By helping launch unknowns like Delaware 's Christine O'Donnell to a GOP Senate nomination, Palin has emerged as a conservative kingmaker. But her own path to the presidency is anything but clear.
VIQUEIRA: But one thing I know, America will repudiate Obama -style liberalism.
Mr. MITT ROMNEY: Seasoned candidates like Mitt Romney , Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee have already spent time in Iowa wooing caucus-goers. For Palin to win there, veterans of state politics say, her celebrity won't be enough.
VIQUEIRA: I think Iowans expect you to make connections in Iowa , different than a lot of states where you can breeze in, give a speech and then check out almost like a rock star.
Mr. JIM NUSSLE (Republican, Former Iowa Representative): Experts say Palin is polarizing and her political base too narrow.
VIQUEIRA: She's clearly a force there. But she has to -- she has to broaden that appeal if she's going to run for president.
Mr. STUART ROTHENBERG (Political Analyst): It's a belief shared by many Democrats . Today President Obama enjoyed his usual Saturday game of basketball. And while aides insist the president isn't yet thinking about 2012 , his spokesman is happy to assert that Palin now sits atop the GOP .
VIQUEIRA: I have no doubt that she is a formidable force in the Republican Party and may well be, in all honesty, the most formidable force in the Republican Party right now.
Mr. ROBERT GIBBS (White House Press Secretary): And, Lester , to give you some idea of how crowded the GOP for 2012 is already becoming, today a relative unknown, Indiana 's Mike Pence , he's a Republican congressman, won a presidential straw poll in the convention of social conservatives. Pence had delivered a rousing speech yesterday speaking to many of the issues that this group was concerned about. And Sarah Palin , who did not address the group, she came in dead last. Lester :
VIQUEIRA: Mike Viqueira , thanks.