Palin says she won't run for president

WASHINGTON -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, said Wednesday that she won't be running for president in 2012.

Palin made the announcement on the Mark Levin radio show, saying her family's wishes were the main factor in her decision. But she also said she felt she could have the most impact by supporting other like-minded candidates.

"I am very thankful that included in a list of supporters in my life are my family members," Palin told the conservative talk show host. "They do support this decision. They came first, the consideration of what a candidacy does to or for a family. That weighed heavily."

Palin's aunt, Katie Johnson of Richland, told the Herald that she was sorry to hear her niece won't be running.

"I was telling her I just don't know anybody else I could trust with her values and convictions," Johnson told the Herald. "But I can understand why she backed out."

Johnson said Palin didn't discuss what she might do instead of running, but Johnson believes her niece will continue to speak out about politics and issues facing the nation.

Palin's announcement came a day after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he, too, would resist the call to run for the GOP nomination. It ended months of intense speculation about whether Palin would get into the race, with her core group of diehard supporters arguing there still was time and she could win.

But time is running out for someone new to make an impact. South Carolina now plans to hold its first-in-the-South primary Jan. 21, meaning Iowa and New Hampshire are likely to hold their contests earlier in January.

That leaves about three months for campaigning. Palin, though, has a rabid following and a proven ability to raise lots of money.

Palin's decision means that, for better or worse, the Republican presidential field for the 2012 nomination is almost certainly set. Christie had been considered the best bet of seriously challenging the two Republican front-runners, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Because of Perry's stumbles in recent debates, Romney has vaulted back into a lead in some presidential preference polls. But the polls also show voters still are open-minded about a candidate.

Palin said she still would play a role in national politics. She said she expected to be active in trying to defeat President Obama and support like-minded candidates running for Congress and in races for governor across the country.

"I believe not being a candidate, you're really unshackled and you're allowed to be even more active," Palin said.

Palin issued a letter, which Levin read, saying that "after much prayer and serious consideration," she would not seek the 2012 Republican nomination. Palin told Levin she also would not run as a third-party candidate.

"I would assume a third party would just guarantee Obama's re-election," Palin said.

Palin thanked her supporters in the tea party movement, people she called "Americans who are independent and patriotic and know our republic is worth defending."