'World News' Political Insights: Sarah Palin Wearing Out GOP's Welcome Mat

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But if she's still mulling a run, the race for her looks different than it did at the start. Other candidates -- Perry and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., primarily -- are making aggressive plays for voters who might have supported Palin, given the opportunity to do so.

Volunteers and activists in the early-voting states want an answer from Palin, and frustration over lack of a definitive word plays out in commitments to other candidates.

If she does run, Palin has promised to be "unconventional," and few doubt that she'll run her own way. But at some point, conventional things like signing up activists and donors, even qualifying for state primary ballots, begin to matter in a significant way.

The question around Palin, as she remains non-committal, becomes less about will-she-or-won't-she. It will be whether the race that's developed around her ultimately cares.

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