Sarah Palin Hits Iowa and NH

Sarah Palin waits backstage before speaking in Iowa. The former Alaska governor said it was not a campaign speech. (Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Sarah Palin spent the Labor Day weekend extending what may be the longest flirtation with a presidential candidacy in U.S. history, wrapping fans and the “lame-stream” media around her little finger in appearances at tea party rallies in Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Run, Sarah, Run!” a crowd of several thousand chanted in the pouring rain at a balloon field in Indianola, Iowa Saturday. She ate it up, but never gave a real indication to her fans whether she is pondering running or just teasing them.

[Palin did run a half-marathon in Storm Lake, Ia. Sunday, finishing in 1:45.]

The Iowa speech was intriguing in several respects, though. For one thing, Palin cast herself as a unifying figure. “We’re not celebrating red America, or blue America. We’re celebrating red, white and blue America.” OK, so it was not as resonant as Barack Obama’s 2004 Democratic convention keynote speech on that theme, but it was a marked departure for the woman who usually rips liberals, elitists and the Heartland-hating media.

Instead, Palin attacked the corrupt status quo in Washington and “crony capitalism,” sounding at times like the Alaska reformer who rose to power challenging corporate interests and her own Republican Party.

“The President's big campaign donors got nice returns for their 'investments' in him to the tune of billions of your tax dollars in the form of 'green energy' stimulus funds,” Palin said. “The technical term for this is 'pay-to-play.' Between bailouts for Wall Street cronies and stimulus projects for union bosses' security and "green energy" giveaways, he took care of his friends. And now they're on course to raise a billion dollars for his re-election bid so that they can do it all over again.”

She did not spare GOP candidates who have raised “mammoth amounts of cash…We need to ask them, too: What, if anything, do their donors expect in return for their 'investments'?...Our country can't afford more trillion-dollar "thank you" notes to campaign backers.”

 Too bad for Palin that, according to recent polling, as many as 71 percent of Republicans do not want her to run. "Polls are for strippers," Palin said.