WASHINGTON - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she's not only staying involved in national politics, but she plans to jump back into the national scrum when she leaves office at the end of the month.
The former Republican vice-presidential nominee said she plans to write a book, campaign for political candidates from coast to coast - even Democrats who share her views on limited government, national defence and energy independence - and build a right-of-centre coalition.
"I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation," she said during an interview published Sunday in The Washington Times.
Palin shocked critics and allies alike when she announced on July 3 that she would leave the governor's office while in the middle of her first term. The governor chose not to seek re-election and suggested it was unfair to hold onto the office as a lame duck. Instead, she will step down July 26 and pursue a national profile. She has not said whether she is building toward a presidential campaign for 2012.
Republican Women Federated of Simi Valley announced Palin was scheduled to speak to the group's private gala on Aug. 8 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. The event - reporters will not be allowed to attend - will take place in an airplane hangar that houses a retired presidential aircraft Air Force One and will stir more questions about her curious resignation.
Palin defended the decision because "pragmatically, Alaska would be better off" if her state weren't spending time on ethical complaints against her. She also said the plan to resign had been in the works for months.
Her 2008 running mate disputed suggestions the telegenic and plainspoken soon-to-be-former-official was a quitter.
"Oh, I don't think she quit," said Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee in 2008 who plucked Palin out of near-obscurity and made her a household name. "I think she changed her priorities."
For now, though, Palin isn't detailing those priorities.
"I'm not ruling out anything. It is the way I have lived my life from the youngest age," she said in the Washington Times interview. "Let me peek out there and see if there's an open door somewhere. And if there's even a little crack of light, I'll hope to plow through it."
The self-described hockey mom plans to write a memoir but declined to discuss any potential deal for her to become a television commentator.
"I can't talk about any of those things while I'm still governor," she said.
Yet she's already reminding audiences of her bipartisan and family-oriented appeal.
"People are so tired of the partisan stuff even my own son is not a Republican," Palin said.
Like his father, 20-year-old Track Palin is registered as "nonpartisan" in Alaska, she said.
McCain said he believes Palin will play a major role in politics, telling NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that "she has the ability to ignite our party and to galvanize us and get us going again and give us a strong positive message."
That said, McCain declined to endorse a Palin for President campaign.
"We've got a lot of good, strong, young, attractive, articulate spokespersons for our party and our principles," McCain said, citing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.