WASHINGTON — Sarah Palin said Monday she is "still kind of contemplating" a presidential campaign as she and her family set off from the U.S. capital on a bus tour of historical sites that left observers puzzled about what the former Alaska governor planned next — both for her schedule and her career.
Palin and her aides refused to share basic details about the "One Nation" tour that was scheduled to take her from Washington to the northeastern New England states in the days ahead. The East Coast swing renewed questions about Palin's next moves, including whether she would enter the still-forming Republican presidential field.
"We're still kind of contemplating that," she said in brief comments to reporters who stumbled onto her Monday at the National Archives.Story: The 2012 GOP presidential field
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Palin's tour started Sunday with the 2008 vice presidential nominee and her family riding motorcycles from the Pentagon to the National Mall with thousands of others.
According to her website, she spent Monday's Memorial Day holiday looking at the nation's founding documents at the Archives; stopping by Fort McHenry in Baltimore, whose bombardment by British warships in 1814 inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner," the U.S. national anthem, and George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, Virginia.Story: Palin a no-show for fans at Civil War battlefield
"I've said before that George Washington is my favorite founding father because he was reluctant to serve, and yet he rose to the great challenges before him," Palin wrote on her political committee's website. "I can certainly see why he dreaded leaving his home on the Potomac. His servant's heart is an inspiration to us all."Story: Bachmann: GOP race can handle me and Palin
'It's still a matter of looking at the field'
Palin remains one of the biggest question marks for Republicans, who have not yet settled on a front-runner to challenge President Barack Obama's re-election bid. While many of Palin's likely rivals have worked to build campaign organizations in early nominating states such as Iowa and 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 party 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. A debate in New Hampshire, another early nominating state, is scheduled in two weeks.
Reporters who found her at some stops didn't get clarity on Palin's next moves or whether her bus tour was a preview of a presidential campaign.
"I think Americans are ready for true change," she said at the National Archives.
Asked directly whether she was running, she told reporters who found her in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: "I don't know, I honestly don't know."
"It's still a matter of looking at the field," she told reporters who bet she would visit the site of the pivotal 1863 Civil War battlefield on Tuesday. She added: "The field is not set yet — not by a long shot."Story: GOP presidential contenders drift to the right
'I don't think I owe anything to the mainstream media'
In an interview with her employer, Fox News Channel, Palin twitted reporters who scoured the East Coast looking for her, trying to make sense of her political strategy or even basic itinerary.
"I want them to have to have to do a little bit of work on a tour like this. That would include, not necessarily telling them beforehand where every stop is going to be, you know?"
In excerpts from the Fox News interview, the former television journalist criticized what she calls the "mainstream media."
"They want kind of the conventional idea of, 'We want a schedule, we want to follow you, we want you to take us along with you,'" Palin said.
"I don't think I owe anything to the mainstream media. I think that it would be a mistake for me to become some kind of conventional politician and doing things the way it's always been done with the media, in terms of relationships with them."
Instead, Palin said she'll offer her own coverage: "I'll write about that at the end of the day."
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