Fox News' Chris Wallace tells Sarah Palin she's not running for president while Politico reports GOP establishment is freaked out that she will

But according to a blockbuster story that was posted last night on Politico by their two top reporters, Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, the GOP political establishment based in Washington is terrified of Palin running, believing she would have a good shot at the 2012 nomination, and thus be the best campaign gift that Barack Obama could look forward to in his re-election bid.

The establishment concern about Palin — at least in its current intensity — is new.

In the wake of the 2008 presidential campaign, there was a widespread belief among Republican strategists and 2012 aspirants that the former Alaska governor was a colorful and energizing figure but not one who projected the authority, or even necessarily held the desire, to make a serious bid for the White House. This view gained credence after Palin resigned the Alaska governorship before finishing her first term.

But nonchalance has turned to alarm among party elites in 2010, as Palin repeatedly showed her clout among a key bloc of anti-establishment conservatives. Obviously relishing her role as a powerful force in GOP primaries, Palin made risky but decisive endorsements for Senate candidates such as Joe Miller in Alaska and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware, both of whom beat establishment favorites but in the process made those states less winnable for the GOP.

Palin this week told "Entertainment Tonight" that if a candidate she feels is sufficiently conservative does not emerge, she would feel moved to run. "If there's nobody else to do it, then of course I would believe that we should do this."

The comments came the same week as an ABC News/Washington Post poll that showed 39 percent of registered voters view her favorably and only 27 percent believe she is qualified to be president.

Obviously, there will be much more on these types of stories as campaign 2012 begins in, oh, about 36 hours.

The national political media complex will have its mini Super Bowl Tuesday night, but is already looking forward to what is the Super Bowl — the race to the presidency 2012.

So the focus on who will be the Republican nominee (the Democrats already have their guy) will really accelerate on the cable news shows beginning by say, Thursday of this week.

The biggest presence of course will be Fox News commentator Sarah Palin, who, along with giving the cliched answers (though in fairness, so did everyone else on Sunday morning talk, as there's only so many things to say about this damned election), was also invariably asked about her thoughts of running for the highest office in the land.

"I don’t need to run for office,” Palin told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. She added:

"I would decide after discussing it with my family, and just checking out the lay of the land and seeing who else is interested in doing it, because I don't need to run for office. I know that I don't need a title.

In fact, I love the freedom that I have, that I can sit here and I can tell you anything that I want to tell you and not have to worry so much about how it will affect my future political career, or my relationship with senators or congressmen.

No, I'll say what I want to say, and that's freeing. So I love the position that I'm in now. I would weigh that, the freedom that I have now, against those constraints that you would have as a candidate."

Later in the interview, Wallace seemed to provoke Palin when he called her out, saying that he doesn't believe she would upend her lifestyle (and take the cut in pay) to go through the rigors of a grueling presidential campaign.  His prediction seemed to set something off in Palin:

WALLACE: I think you're having too much fun. I think you're making too much money. You're still a big player in national politics. You don't have 100 people like me chasing you around saying, "What does she read in the morning?" I don't think you're going to run.

PALIN: You know, the country is worth it, though, to make those sacrifices, when we talk about making money today, having a lot of fun today, having all this freedom.

If the country needed me — and I'm not saying that the country does and that the country would ever necessarily want to choose me over anyone else, but I would be willing to make the sacrifices if need be for America."

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