Reporting from Des Moines, Iowa—Sarah Palin crashed into the Iowa State Fair on Friday, eclipsing the GOP presidential candidates who were trying to draw supporters to the Ames Straw Poll the following day.
The timing of Palin's visit raised eyebrows among political observers, who have been playing a will-she-or-won't-she-run game for months. It's not the first time the former Alaska governor has stolen the spotlight in politically important moments – earlier this summer she made an appearance in New Hampshire on the same day Mitt Romney officially declared his candidacy there.
Palin said the timing of her visit was coincidental, that she had been invited to the fair for a couple years and was able to incorporate it into her "One Nation" bus tour that she has been sporadically conducting this summer. But she noted that it was important for candidates to spend time in the early-voting states.
Photos: Scenes From Iowa - Republicans at the State Fair
"I am here as an invited guest of people who have asked me to come [to the fair] the last couple years, part of the 'One Nation Tour,' getting to highlight an all-Americana historical venue we have here at the state fair, but at the same time getting to learn a lot more about what's important to Iowa and that's helpful too," she said, after touring the cattle barn.
Palin was mobbed by supporters and the media as soon as she entered the fair, drawing far more attention than Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum did when they spoke at the Des Moines Register soapbox, flipped pork chops at a food stand and wandered the grand concourse shaking hands with fair-goers. (Continues here)