ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin coyly said Tuesday she could still make a tilt for the White House as Republican candidates battle it out for the divided party's 2012 nomination.
Although it would be an unlikely scenario, the controversial former 2008 vice-presidential candidate - speaking as she voted in her far northwestern state - said she might consider throwing her hat into the ring if pressed.
"I would seriously consider whatever I can do to help our country, to put things back on the right track," she told CNN, when asked about a run at the next presidential election, in 2016.
She was asked specifically what she would do if the Republican party faced an open convention this August - meaning none of the current candidates has sewn up the nomination by then - and someone asked her to stand.
"As I say, anything is possible. I don't close any doors that perhaps would be open out there, so, no, I wouldn't close that door. My plan is to be at that convention," she added in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska.
Palin, a darling of the Tea Party but lampooned and vilified by the left, flirted for months last year with running for the Republican ticket, eventually deciding against it in October.
But with the Republican race showing no sign of being wrapped up anytime soon - unusually for a party which traditionally chooses its candidate rapidly - Palin clearly senses there could be a role for her still.
The Republican party's 2008 presidential nominee, Senator John McCain, picked Palin as his running mate before being beaten by Democrat Barack Obama.
She was ridiculed abroad notably for foreign policy gaffes, but became a Tea Party leading light and media pundit, lashing out at big government and the "lamestream" media, while her family have joined the celebrity spotlight.
Palin's comments on Tuesday were her latest hint that she could yet return to the political limelight as Mitt Romney sought to deal a knockout blow to his rivals in the race to be the Republican nominee.
Romney is battling Christian conservative Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Texas Representative Ron Paul. The latter is the only candidate who actually visited Alaska before Tuesday's vote.
In Anchorage on Tuesday night, there seemed little enthusiasm for any of the frontrunners - a trend noticed throughout the race, which has seen a succession of rivals leapfrogging into the lead over Romney, before fading.
"I like Rick Santorum. He seems the most believable candidate to me. Mitt Romney just makes me feel a little uneasy," said Mike Swanson, while admitting that he was "not very passionate" about the former Pennsylvania senator.
"It's the lesser of two evils for me," he added.
Andy Kriner said that he had switched allegiance in recent months: "I started with Herman Cain, then I went to Newt Gingrich, and now Romney is probably the guy who will get the nomination.
"He seems like a good guy. I'm not passionate about him, but I'm more passionate about him than I am Obama."
Asked if any of the Republican candidates could win against the incumbent president, he said: "If I had to bet on it, I'd say it would be hard for anybody to beat Obama."