"I don't think there's any question that she has ambition," said Matthew Dowd, a prominent political consultant and chief strategist for George W. Bush's re-election campaign. "And if you look at the vice presidential candidates for the last 50 years, once somebody becomes the nominee for V.P., they automatically start having future ambitions and they automatically start looking past Election Day."
However, over the past few days, criticism of Palin within the campaign has gotten uglier. One McCain advisor reportedly labeled Palin a "diva" and another "top McCain advisor" reportedly called her a "wack job."
"It is unusual to have this much talk from campaign insiders beginning to point the fingers and beginning to say someone else is to blame," said Dowd. "I mean it's almost as if they are organizing a circular firing squad before Election Day. Usually they don't start ... those circular firing squads until after Election Day."
Washington Post columnist George Will said the internal disputation is not unfamiliar turf for the McCain camp.
"Long before Sarah Palin was a glint in John McCain's eye, there was famous factional fighting within his campaign, all the way back to the summer of 2007 when his campaign imploded in disarray," he said. "So, fighting among these people is not news."
McCain aides have pointed to specific instances of Palin speaking off the cuff, sometimes interfering with her boss. On the day after McCain decided to pull resources out of Michigan, Palin told reporters, "I would sure love to get to run to Michigan and make sure that Michigan knows that we haven't given up there."
And two weeks later, she seemed to criticize McCain's use of robo-calls.
"If I could wave a magic wand," she said, "I would be sitting at a kitchen table with more and more Americans, talking to them about our plan to get the economy back on track and winning the war and not having to rely on the old conventional ways of campaigning that includes those robo-calls."
Will said the staff should've expected mistakes from a candidate with Palin's level of experience.
"If they don't want someone to make rookie mistakes, perhaps they shouldn't pick a rookie in national politics. This is part of the bargain," he told ABC News' Kate Snow. "I think she's performing the service she was initially intended to perform, [which] is energizing the base and drawing crowds. I think that, in the process of doing that, she predictably is failing to do the other job, which is appealing to people who are not in the base."
Will also believes there are conservatives pushing the idea of Palin in 2012, but dismisses the idea that Palin is actively contemplating a future bid.
"Look, it's always possible to explain mistakes in terms of guile," said Will. "That's a sign of paranoia. The fact is mistakes often get made, particularly in the fatigue intention of a campaign, by people who are talking 18 hours a day. They're going to say some things they shouldn't say. But to ascribe Machiavellian subtlety to this woman, particularly looking four years out is, I think, to say no more, a stretch."
In an interview with ABC's Elizabeth Vargas, Palin said she was focused on winning next week.