Sarah Palin kept her decision not to enter the 2012 presidential race shrouded in secrecy until the last minute — even to her closest confidantes.
ABC News has learned that members of Palin’s staff were only very recently informed that she wouldn’t be running and that an announcement would likely come on Wednesday, but they were not informed of the exact details of how the information would be released.
Palin made her decision known Wednesday releasing a statement to ABC News and telling radio host Mark Levin that she will not be a candidate for president in 2012.
A source with knowledge of the inner workings of SarahPAC said staff members’ initial reaction is that they don’t anticipate any major changes into how SarahPAC will be run after the announcement Their status hasn’t changed: they didn’t work for candidate yesterday and they don’t work for one today.
As recently, as Tuesday afternoon Palin staffers still did not know if she was running and were keeping abreast of primary filing deadlines.
Palin told Levin her family supports her decision and “they came first.” She said the consideration of what the candidacy would do to her family “weighed heavily on her.”
The mystery surrounding Palin’s decision reflected the way she has handled her political stardom since catapulting to fame after being picked to be John McCain’s running mate. Staff and close confidantes always said the decision would be made with her husband Todd and released when she–and only she–was ready.
Her endorsement will likely be sought out by the 2012 contenders and she said she wouldn’t run a third party campaign saying it would “guarantee Obama’s re-election and that’s the last thing our republic can afford.”
Palin’s timeline for an announcement seemed to be a moving target. During an August trip to Iowa she told ABC News that the end of September was “practically speaking … kind of a drop-dead timeline” when it comes to “jumping in the ring.
But she subsequently backed off that self-imposed deadline In September she told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren that she was “not going to let the media tell me or dictate when a drop-dead date should be.”
“So I don’t have an answer for you on that one yet,” Palin said at the time, adding that she’s “engaged internally with my family in discussions.”
And as of late September, she had still not made an announcement to her staff about her intentions. No new staff members had been hired. Her core group of about six aides continued to run her political organization while a volunteer group completely independent of SarahPAC, called Organize4Palin or O4P, tried to lay the groundwork in early voting states, most notably Iowa.
But one source who spoke with ABC News two weeks ago seemed to already have a indication of her eventual decision: “There is a developing consensus among former aides with knowledge of SarahPAC that she has decided not to run,” the source said.
ABC News’ Michael Falcone and John Berman contributed to this report.