As she openly flirts with a 2012 GOP presidential run, Sarah Palin is launching a folksy charm offensive aimed at winning over voters in America's heartland. On Sunday, Alaska's former governor kicks off her new TLC reality show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska." The show--which one pundit described as possibly the "earliest, most expensive presidential campaign ad ever made" --aims to reshape the Mama Grizzly's image, dialing down the campaign-season impression of Palin as a politically polarizing tea party leader. The reality-TV version is a folksy everyday mom who'd rather be hiking and fishing than sitting in "some stuffy old political office."
[Photos: More moments with Sarah Palin]
At the same time, though, Palin is preparing to hit the road for a book tour touting a title that plies heartland political virtues--and boasting an itinerary that bypasses media centers such as New York and Los Angeles in favor of middle-American destinations that also figure prominently on the 2012 primary map. The promotional tour for "America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag" kicks off Nov. 23 in Phoenix and will take her through 13 states in 11 days, including key 2012 primary states Iowa and South Carolina.
Palin has been coy in fielding questions about potential plans to challenge Obama in 2012--but there's little doubt that she's working to position herself as a candidate of "regular" people. On her TV show, Palin repeatedly describes herself as an average Alaskan mother and housewife. That image helped to propel her to the national scene as John McCain's running mate in 2008--even though some McCain-Palin staffers charged that the vice-presidential nominee had a penchant for "diva-like" behavior.Read More »from With new book and TV show, the Sarah Palin charm offensive begins