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Palin kicks off book tour amid fresh speculation of a White House bid

By Shannon Travis, CNN Political Producer
  • Palin's book, 'America by Heart,' goes on sale Tuesday
  • The former 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee is on a 16-stop book tour
  • Tour comes amid talks of a White House bid

Phoenix, Arizona (CNN) -- A political rock star welcome and adoring chants of "Go Sarah" greeted Sarah Palin at a Phoenix bookstore as the former Alaska governor kicked off her latest book tour that, to some, also looks like a much hyped, early bid for the White House.

Palin's book, "America by Heart," went on sale Tuesday. The former 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee appeared at a Barnes & Noble Bookstore shaking hands, chatting up supporters and signing books.

At one point, Palin was even seen doing what's become essentially customary for any presidential hopeful: cooing over a baby.

It was the first stop on a 16-stop book tour.

While Palin responded to entreaties from her fans, the scrum of reporters was not allowed to ask her questions. Instead, reporters were left to speak with her supporters who'd gathered to see her.

Hayden Bradley was the first in line to meet Palin after arriving at the bookstore at 1a.m. -- standing in the dark alone -- to secure a place in line at the evening event.

The 18-year-old told CNN that Palin is "straight forward and she really is a true American, I believe."

Oddly enough for two others, a Palin meeting was likened to a sort of pre-marital therapy session.

Larry Tasker and Beverly Keck are engaged to be married. But in lighthearted words, they explained to CNN how Palin could have been a deal breaker for their plans.

"We couldn't tie the knot till we did it," Keck said regarding actually meeting Palin. "Nothing could be better than seeing Sarah," Tasker added.

Faced with a bit of a giggle from his fiance, Tasker quickly amended his words: "Except for ... being engaged to Bev."

But not everyone at this Palin-charged event was charged up about Palin.

Zach Wild said she was there to get a signed copy of "America by Heart" for her mom.

She has little love for Palin and staunchly supports President Barack Obama.

When asked if she would mention that upon meeting Palin, Wild laughed and joked, "If I get the chance. I might be ushered out very quickly."

Palin's newest book could prove to be a bestseller similar to her first book, "Going Rogue." It is part political manifesto, part personal diary on her background and family life, part musings on what makes America great, and part slams on everything from Obama's policies to reality TV stars.

She will promote the book across 13 states. All but two are traditionally red states.

Four stops in particular are firing up fresh speculation that Palin could also be laying down the gauntlet for a presidential run.

She makes two stops in Iowa, home to the nation's first presidential caucuses. She will also sign books in South Carolina, home to the first Southern presidential primaries. And Palin will appear in Ohio. No presidential candidate has won the White House -- in the past 11 elections -- without winning Ohio.

Palin is doing little to cool the simmering chatter about a possible presidential bid. She recently told The New York Times magazine that she was considering it with her family. And she recently told ABC News that, if she did run, she could beat Obama.

And yet, Palin is now uttering rare words of caution about the potential negative impact her candidacy could have on the Republican Party.

In an interview on the conservative "Sean Hannity Show" of talk radio, Palin responded to a question about some early polls that show her faring well in possible primary matchups.

Then Palin added this: "... But if within the machine itself, the GOP machine feels threatened, some of those in the hierarchy, if they start attacking my potential candidacy in trying to erode a base of support and discredit ... me and my record and my policies, then I will know that I would probably do more harm than good to the cause."

"The cause that we all need to be engaged in is stopping the Obama, Pelosi, Reid fundamental transformation of America," Palin said. "And if I get in the way of that cause, I don't need a title, I don't need a position, I don't need to run for office in order to affect positive change in order to reach the goals that we have in the cause."

CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.