Sarah Palin Heads to Iowa, Fueling 2012 Speculation

The trip fuels speculation she's laying groundwork for a 2012 presidential run.

ByABC News
September 16, 2010, 7:08 PM

Sept. 17, 2010 -- Fresh off two big triumphs in Delaware and New Hampshire, where her chosen candidates both won their primaries earlier this week, Sarah Palin will travel to Iowa today for one of the state's most important GOP political events of the year.

Palin, who has been an inspiration to Tea Party forces around the country, is heading to the Hawkeye State to speak at the Iowa Republican Party's Ronald Reagan dinner, a $100-a-plate fundraiser that is expected to draw more than 1,000 Iowa Republicans.

It is Palin's most significant foray into Iowa politics this year, but her appearance is unlikely to answer the question on everybody's mind: Will she or won't she run for president in 2012?

Still, Palin's visit helps shore up her standing with Republican voters in the all-important early primary state and it allows her to keep up with other potential 2012 contenders who already have started to spend more time there. It's what longtime Iowa political observer David Yepsen called a "deal-me-in visit."

"Even with her celebrity and name recognition, it's always good to be in Iowa sending a signal to the local activists that you're there and should be kept in mind," he said.

Yepsen, the former chief political correspondent for the Des Moines Register who now heads the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, predicted that Palin's brand of politics -- as well as her star power -- would play well with voters in the state.

"Even Sarah Palin's adversaries have come to have a new respect for her," Yepsen said. "She's clearly having an effect on her party in this cycle."

Iowa GOP chairman Matt Strawn told a local Iowa newspaper that Palin's visit was a "coup" for the party, which is busy raising money during the home stretch of the midterm election season.

Danielle Plogmann, spokeswoman for the state party, said it would be "the largest and best-attended Reagan dinner in recent memory."