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Sarah Palin helped Newt Gingrich win in South Carolina. Is Florida now calling?

Amanda CoyneThe New York Times

For those of you who thought that former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s October announcement that she wasn’t going to run for president signaled her political death-knell, well, the lady doth not die.

That might be one of the many lessons gleaned from Newt Gingrich’s overwhelming victory Saturday in South Carolina’s Republican primary.

The Gingrich-Palin love-fest began when Todd Palin endorsed Gingrich for the Republican presidential nominee early in January. Then Sarah followed. She didn’t go as far as to endorse Gingrich in the race, but she told Fox's Sean Hannity that if she lived in South Carolina, she would vote for Gingrich.

The former House speaker repaid that endorsement by telling CNN, “I would ask her to consider taking a major role in the next administration if I’m president…”

Gingrich also said Palin's endorsement in the state was a “signal to every conservative that the one conservative vote that’s effective is to Newt Gingrich and that’s very helpful.”

Considering the South Carolina turnout of “value” voters Saturday, he might have been on to something.

On Saturday night, Palin told Fox News that she believes Gingrich is now the front-runner in the 2012 GOP presidential race. The question is what role Palin will have in the rest of his run. Florida is coming up, a state that’s been good to Palin.

It’s rumored that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will soon announce a Romney endorsement, which might just get Palin to try to flex her competitive muscles. After all, she seemed to beat out the Romney's high-profile South Carolina endorsements of tea party darling Gov. Nikki Haley, and conservative darling New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Not bad for a woman who hasn't had a political job since she left Alaska Governor's Mansion more than two years ago. 

Indeed, Palin has the time to go back on the trail. After she stepped down from the governorship in 2009, she delivered some speeches, published a book of quotes from others, starred in a reality TV show, held a few rallies, took a SarahPac-paid vacation to the East Coast, and still appears occasionally on Fox News.

Her schedule seems fairly open. Alaska is experiencing a cold snap. On Saturday night in Wasilla, it was supposed to get down to minus 10 or more.

Is Florida beckoning? 

Contact Amanda at Amanda(at)alaskadispatch.com