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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Tea Party champion Sarah Palin says she thinks she could beat President Barack Obama in 2012, sending more signals she may run for the Republican presidential nomination in the next election.
Palin, John McCain's vice presidential nominee in 2008 and former governor of Alaska, is doing nothing to discourage speculation she might join what is expected to be a large Republican field of presidential contenders.
The latest signal from Palin came in an interview with ABC News on "Barbara Walters' 10 Most Fascinating People" show to air December 9.
"I'm looking at the lay of the land now, and ... trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing," Palin said.
Asked Walters, "If you ran for president, could you beat Barack Obama?"
"I believe so," Palin said.
Palin has been getting publicity lately with a program on the TLC network called "Sarah Palin's Alaska," which promotes the scenic wonders of her home state and stars Palin and her family. The eight-part TV series coincides with a 16-stop tour she begins next week for her second book, "America by Heart."
Palin talked about her presidential prospects in an interview with The New York Times Sunday Magazine, which published a profile on Wednesday. Palin usually restricts her interviews to Fox News, where she is a paid political commentator.
"I'm engaged in the internal deliberations candidly, and having that discussion with my family, because my family is the most important consideration here," Palin told the magazine.
She said "proving my record" would be her biggest hurdle.
"That's the most frustrating thing for me -- the warped and perverted description of my record and what I've accomplished over the last two decades," she said.
Obama suffered a serious reverse two weeks ago when Republicans defeated his Democrats in midterm elections, winning control of the House of Representatives.
Palin, 46, is viewed warmly among the conservative Republican base but skeptically by other Americans. A Gallup Poll last week said 52 percent of Americans viewed Palin unfavorably, the highest percentage holding a negative opinion of her since the 2008 campaign.
A host of other Republicans are also pondering a run for their party's 2012 nomination for the right to challenge Obama, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, outgoing Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and South Dakota Senator John Thune.
Gingrich told reporters in Iowa on Tuesday he would make a decision probably in February or March. The first Republican presidential debate is planned for spring at Ronald Reagan's presidential library in Simi Valley, California.
Additional reporting by Kay Henderson in Des Moines; Editing by Peter Cooney