Robert Shrum

Sarah Palin is the bright red thread in the dull grey fabric of the Republican Party. She is charismatic, quirky, melodramatic, and fervently anti-choice, anti-gay, and anti-Obama. But there's one thing she'll never be—the GOP nominee for President in 2012.

Palin has the most intense grassroots base of any potential candidate, in the true-believing core of the party. And that's worth quite a lot. But in Congress and in state houses across the country, Republicans worry that she's unelectable, and could take them down to defeat with her. She says she may campaign for conservative Democrats next year; she'll have plenty of time since a host of Republican hopefuls have announced that they don't want her help.

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