The following are excerpts from a series of e-mails between TIME's Jay Newton-Small and Sarah Palin as the former Alaska governor crisscrossed the country for candidates and then for her book tour over the past six weeks.
What do you think of Barack Obama's presidency thus far?
Two words: Jimmy Carter.
Can a Republican beat him in 2012, and if so, who?
Yes, someone who will draw a sharp contrast. Obama is now a very polarizing figure. In the battleground states, he's polling at 40% or below. The country is rejecting his agenda.
Why do you think you can beat Obama?
In 2012, Obama will have what he did not in 2008: a record in office. Americans have seen over the past two years what that record is and what he really stands for. My vision of America is diametrically opposed to his. He sees America as the problem. I see America as the solution if only our creative energy, ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit were not shackled and stymied by government. He believes in radical transformation to move us in the direction of the failed ideologies that so many of our allies in Europe are now trying to shake off as they face economic turmoil. I believe in restoration of the time-tested principles of the free market and individual liberty that have historically made us free and prosperous and peaceful and strong as "the abiding beacon of freedom" and "the last best hope of earth" that Reagan and Lincoln called us.
Some critics have said you're making too much money, you're too comfortable to run and you have too much to lose. What's your response?
If I felt that I was needed, I would run because the country is more important than my ease though I'm not necessarily living a life of ease. I'm very busy helping people and causes; so busy, in fact, I haven't had time to hit the links in quite a few years.
If you won the presidency, what would be the first things you'd do in office?
The first priority of the next Republican President should be to sign a bill for the repeal and replacement of Obamacare with true free-market, patient-centered reform. Obamacare's repeal would help to cut future deficits. It would also send a strong signal to America's workers and employers that government is back on their side and is no longer seeking to impose its one-size-fits-all "solutions" from above. Other priorities would obviously be a real plan for domestic energy development that doesn't ignore conventional resources while we actively pursue the next big breakthrough in renewable energy. I'd also look for entitlement reform, as well as a systemwide audit of government spending with a goal to move us toward zero-based budgeting practices and ultimately a balanced budget. We need to start really living within our means. As any mother or father will tell you, you don't spend what you don't have. And if the argument against this is that the government is too big and unruly to even consider such an audit, then I say that that alone is all the proof you need that our government has grown completely out of control and desperately needs to be reined in.
Part of being a politician is being attacked, but you seem to draw a whole new level of fire, not just from Democrats but from some Establishment Republicans albeit often anonymously. Where do you think it comes from?
The key word is anonymous. We continue to hear the yapping from these "anonymous" sources. Wimps. These are the same self-proclaimed political experts who say they can take on the nation's financial crisis and deal with the likes of Ahmadinejad, but they're not courageous enough to put their names behind their criticisms of a hockey mom from Wasilla.
I shall continue supporting and working for commonsense conservatives who will run for office and serve Americans for all the right reasons. Media mischaracterizations of my administrative record and what I stand for won't deter [me]. The "reporters" who continue to cite "unnamed GOP insiders" as hard news sources will soon be deemed impotent by the American public as we rise up and say, "The state of journalism today stinks. Let's clean it up and expect some accountability." Shoot, if I read and believed all the lies these guys write about me, I wouldn't like me either!
I'm not entirely sure where the intensity of the left-wing vitriol comes from. My positions are not at all controversial. The majority of Americans agree with me across the board on the issues. I think it's a personal thing that probably stems from media demonization of me and mischaracterization of what I stand for.
Some in the GOP establishment have a problem with me because I've been taking on the good-'ol-boy network for a couple of decades now, and some of the good 'ol boys obviously don't like it.