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Palin a no-show for fans at Civil War battlefield

Sarah Palin, who is on a tour of historic sites on the East Coast thus renewing speculation she might be testing the waters for a presidential bid, has found a new way to keep her political faithful guessing.
/ Source: news services

Sarah Palin has found a new way to keep her political faithful guessing.

Palin was a no-show for several hundred supporters, celebrity-watchers and media who turned out in hopes of seeing her at the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg on Monday. She and her entourage arrived at a hotel outside the town late in the day and spoke to a smaller group of people gathered there.

The Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008 is on a tour of historic sites on the East Coast, renewing speculation she might be testing the waters for a presidential bid in 2012.

Palin remained noncommittal on whether she will run.

"I honestly don't know," the former Alaska governor said, CBS reported on its website.

PuzzledPalin and her family set off from Washington, D.C., leaving 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.

On Sunday, Palin entered Washington on the back of a Harley-Davidson in a war veterans' motorcycle parade that is part of the Memorial Day weekend observance in the capital.

Rumors, then Twitter messages, then posts on her website showed Palin had visited sites in and near Washington, like the National Archives, where the U.S. Constitution is on display, and Baltimore's Fort McHenry, where the "rockets' red glare" described in the national anthem took place.

A photo on her website late on Sunday showed the closing words of the Gettysburg Address delivered by President Abraham Lincoln after the 1863 battle. That was taken as a hint.

Several hundred people gathered at the Civil War site on a hot, sunny day for a glimpse of the woman who supporters hope will inject some life into a sluggish race for the Republican nomination to challenge President Barack Obama next year.

'She has backbone'
Some of those assembled there were puzzled by goal of the tour, which seemed designed to attract public attention despite a lack of information.

"In a way it's cool. In a way it's, 'Whaa?'" said John Hower, a baker who drove for three hours from Berwick, Pennsylvania, with two friends to see Palin. "She's trying to avoid the media. But I'd like to see the bus. We're, like, where's this bus?"

A charismatic and polarizing figure who resigned as governor, wrote a book, and became a Fox News commentator after the 2008 election, Palin's entry into the Republican field could spice up a race among candidates who so far have failed to arouse passion among core party members.

"I think she'd kick the mix up," said Janita Carlton of Green Forest, Arkansas. "I think she's a smart lady and she has backbone."

By the evening, reports of her bus being parked at a hotel reached the crowd. Many stayed at the battlefield hoping she would visit the memorial as temperatures cooled late in the day. Eventually, after hours of waiting, the crowd thinned.

"I'm disappointed. Yeah, I would have liked to have seen her," said Sharon Danielski, who left after a nine-hour vigil.

Hower, the baker, described what drew him there.

"She's a big name, she's always in the news," he said. "She might be a future president. Maybe not this time but sooner or later she might get it right."