At a Palm Springs reception and dinner organized by Newsmax's Christopher Ruddy, Sarah Palin charmed the top conservative leaders who gathered there to meet her, reports US News columnist Paul Bedard in "Washington Whispers":
Former Alaska governor and 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin is raising new speculation in conservative circles that she is already preparing for a 2012 presidential bid. In the latest and clearest example of her plans, Palin met with some 50 national conservative leaders Wednesday in Palm Beach, Florida where she discussed economic and diplomatic policy and led some to declare that she's in the race.Also on hand was Michael Reagan, who interviewed the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate for an October 12 Newsmax webcast. The two have a history of mutual respect. Gov. Palin introduced Ronald Reagan's elder son at an Anchorage rally in June of 2009 celebrating the late president. After his brother Ron smeared her and the Tea Party movement on a leftist cable tv show, Reagan issued a written statement saying his father would've embraced the movement and supported Gov. Palin. And after Sarah Palin's acceptance speech at the 2008 RNC Convention, the radio host compared her favorably to President Reagan in his Human Events column, "Welcome Back, Dad."
"This was an indication that she's strongly considering running," said one insider. "She was very knowledgeable and gave intelligent answers, despite how she's been characterized," added the insider. "And she was extremely charming."
One conservative leader told Whispers that Palin's trip to Newsmax was the strongest sign yet that she's planning to run.
During her stop, Ruddy and his staff presented Palin with a faux Newsmax cover showing her running for the presidency. It was headlined: "Yes in 2012."
At a later reception and dinner, she made her case on several issues to top conservative leaders, among them, Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, pundit Dick Morris, activist Ralph Reed, and John Raese, the West Virginia Republican Senate candidate who holds a surprise lead over Democratic Gov. Joe Manchin.
Conservatives have warmed to Palin in part because of her golden touch in picking Tea Party candidates to back in House and Senate races, giving her a ready-made support base in a presidential bid.
Update: More on the Newsmax interview here.