MIAMI -- Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska did something here on Thursday that she did not do in her entire campaign as the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee: She stood behind a lectern and held a news conference. She was asked what had changed.
"The campaign is over," she said.
Granted, the question and answer session lasted only four minutes, and for only four questions. As she stood on a stage in a hotel overlooking Biscayne Bay, surrounded by 12 fellow governors, Palin was asked what message she hoped to get across.
"I'm trying to convey the message that Republican governors are a unique team," said Palin, who said she was not interested in discussing the campaign.
But Palin did allow herself a look back after the brief news conference ended, as she addressed a session of the Republican Governors Association and told them that she had managed to keep busy since their last conference.
"I had a baby, I did some traveling, I very briefly expanded my wardrobe, I made a few speeches, I met a few VIPS, including those who really impact society, like Tina Fey," she said.
And yes, she spoke again of "Joe the Plumber," the Ohio man who briefly dominated the McCain-Palin campaign and its talk about taxes.
Palin thanked the people who attended her rallies, including young women she hopes she has influenced.
"I am going to remember all the young girls who came up to me at rallies to see the first woman having the privilege of carrying our party's VP nomination," she said. "We're going to work harder, we're going to be stronger, we're going to do better and one day, one of them will be the president."
That raised again the question dogging Palin since the election ended: Will she run in 2012?
"The future is not that 2012 presidential race, it's next year and our next budgets," she said. It is in 2010, she said, that "we'll have 36 governors positions open."
Palin tried to downplay her celebrity, even after a week in which she was featured in interviews on NBC, FOX News and CNN. In her speech, she tried to change the focus from herself to the work that Republican governors must now do, including developing energy resources to health care reform.
"I am not going to assume that the answer is for the federal government to just take it over and try to run America's health care system," Palin said. "Heaven forbid."
She implored her fellow Republican governors to "show the federal government the way," while also reforming their own party.
"We are the minority party. Let us resolve not to be the negative party," Palin said. "Let us build our case with actions, not just with words."
Her appearance was the highly anticipated moment of the conference, coming a day after other emerging governors spoke about the direction of the Republican Party. Entering the political wilderness after its losses this month, the group that many consider its future met to talk about what went wrong, and what to do next.
The long, sometimes painful post-mortem of the election -- where Republicans were widely repudiated, losing the White House and more seats in Congress -- began in earnest here among Republican governors, a group that has traditionally served as a wellspring of new ideas and talent for the party. It was, at times, a bit glum.
Frank Luntz, the communications strategist, gave the Republicans a slide show describing how their party just endured its worst back-to-back elections since 1930 and 1932. Luntz said the prospect of sharing his polling research with a group of Republicans gave him pause. "I understand how Dr. Kevorkian feels at an AARP convention," he said.