Palin on Harley fuels prez talk

Dressed in black jeans, leather jacket and helmet, Palin opened a campaign-style East Coast bus tour by joining tens of thousands of participants in the annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally to honour military veterans.

Her arrival in a Pentagon parking lot where the riders gathered set off a crush of photographers and cheering fans seeking autographs, many urging her to run for the White House and shouting “Sarah, we love you.”

“Thanks for doing what you’re doing for the veterans,” the 2008 vice-presidential nominee told one rider as she chatted with fans, posed for photos and signed T-shirts and posters.

Palin’s bus tour and other recent moves have generated a burst of speculation about whether she will enter a slow-starting Republican race for the right to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.

Many Republicans are unhappy with the field and have urged others to enter. Palin would be the best-known candidate in a race that includes former Governors Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Mitt Romney of Massachusetts along with former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Palin’s political action committee says the bus tour of historical sites on the East Coast is part of an effort to educate Americans on the country’s founding principles. But her participation in the motorcycle rally spotlighted her undeniable star power.

Her appearance, along with husband Todd and daughters Bristol and Piper, thrilled fans and drew grumbles from riders who said she was politicising the rally for military veterans that takes place each year during Memorial Day weekend.

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