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Memorial Day brings out presidential hopefuls

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Many potential GOP presidential candidates were out on Memorial Day
  • Sarah Palin plans to go to Iowa
  • Mitt Romney releases a statement praising military veterans
  • Palin takes her "One Nation" tour to Fort McHenry, Mount Vernon and Gettysburg

(CNN) -- Politicians were in plentiful supply this Memorial Day as the ramp-up to the 2012 presidential election began in earnest.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who began a nationwide bus tour Sunday, generated plenty of buzz, visiting Fort McHenry in Baltimore and Mount Vernon in Virginia on Monday.

She told CNN on Monday that she plans to take her "One Nation" bus tour to Iowa, the state that votes first in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

"I'm sure at some point I will be going to Iowa," Palin said.

The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee told reporters earlier on Monday she is "still kind of contemplating" a White House run.

"I think any Republican candidate is very, very electable," she said. "I think Americans are ready for true change."

Palin's Memorial Day schedule was also expected to take her to the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. As of 5 p.m. ET she hadn't arrived yet, but more than 100 people were waiting, some for hours.

Over the next few days, Palin's "One Nation" bus tour is also scheduled to make stops at historic sites in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the latter home to the nation's first primary.

"This isn't a campaign bus," she said. "This is a bus to be able to express to America how much we appreciate our foundation, and to invite more people to be interested in all that is good about America."

"We don't need to fundamentally transform America," she added. "We need to restore what's good about America."

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who would compete with Palin for Tea Party support should she run, was attending Memorial Day events in New Hampshire.

She has already hired staff in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- all key states that hold early caucuses or primaries.

Bachmann has promised to make a presidential announcement during June in Waterloo, Iowa, the town where she was born.

Former Minnesota Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, who announced his candidacy last week, was spending the day in Iowa, including a stop at a pancake breakfast in Waukee.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is expected to announce his presidential bid on Thursday in New Hampshire, did not share his Memorial Day plans. He did release a statement, however, praising both veterans and current military service members.

"As we observe Memorial Day, we owe thanks to the many Americans who have fought and died to defend our country," Romney said. "Those patriots who are on the battlefields today or have gone to battlefields in the past, some never to return, have left us a stronger country, a great nation that, whatever its divisions, shines as a beacon of liberty before the peoples of the world."

 
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