Palin to take center-stage at Miami GOP Governors' conference

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Miami (Florida), Nov.13 : Alaska Governor and failed Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin plans to take the stage Thursday in Miami as the Republican Governors Association's featured speaker.

Her address, by any standard, marks a stunning ascent from last year's convention.

According to Fox News, a year ago, Palin was a freshman governor unfamiliar to most in the lower 48. Six years ago, Sarah Palin was the mayor of a little-known Alaskan hamlet who didn't even own a passport. Today, she's a history-making figurehead in the Republican Party, who has held court with foreign heads of state and who still has the media clamoring for seconds of her time.

Having tasted the trappings of political celebrity, the question lingers whether Palin ever can go back to her hockey-mom, salt-of-the-earth outsider life.

For now, she's the governor of America's 49th state. But Palin has signaled that she might just heed the calls to reach for the mantle of the Republican Party -- and remain in the national spotlight.

She told FOX News over the weekend that she'd be delighted to "serve in a greater capacity."

She said she'd "plow through that door" in 2012 if the opportunity presented itself.

And on Wednesday at the Republican Governors Association conference in Miami, she said a woman would be good for the 2012 Republican ticket, adding, "I would be happy to get to do whatever is asked of me to help progress this nation."

Palin's Thursday address could amount to her first public step toward re-building her profile ahead of a 2012 presidential run.

As with Barack Obama after his Democratic keynote four years ago, Palin may recognize the need to strike while the iron's still hot.

It's unclear how exactly she'll stay visible and viable from a far-removed state that, as she reminded voters during her campaign, shares a maritime border with Russia.

One way to super-charge her presence on the national scene would be to join the U.S. Senate. And there's a window for Palin to take that route.

Convicted Senator. Ted Stevens is still in a close race for re-election against Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich. But although Stevens plans to appeal his federal corruption conviction, if he wins re-election Senate leaders have said they would move to expel him.

Palin then could run for Stevens' seat in a special election, which by law would be held 60 to 90 days after such a vacancy.

The Alaska governor has given mixed signals about the potential opening. Palin told NBC in an interview Tuesday that's not what she wants to do.

Palin said. "I'm not planning on it because I think the people of Alaska will best be served with me as their governor making sure that we are prudently spending the tax dollars."

But she told another cable news network Wednesday that, "if it were acknowledged up there that I could be put to better use for my state in the U.S. Senate, I would certainly consider that but that would take a special election and everything else."

Palin could also finish out her first term as Alaska's governor, and then run for Senator Lisa Murkowski's seat in 2010.

Palin, who drew criticism from conservatives for her shaky interview performances in the presidential campaign, is far from a shoo-in for her party's nomination in 2012.

The Republican Party sustained a stinging electoral rebuke on Election Day, losing seats in the House and Senate, as well as the presidency. The door is open for rising stars to rebuild the party and re-establish its appeal among voters.

Members of the Republican Governors Association like Florida's Charlie Crist, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal and Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty -- all at one point mentioned as possible McCain running mates -- are considered likely contenders to carry the mantle of the party in the years ahead.

ANI

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