Miami (AP) - Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is sending signals that she is open to running for president in 2012, but another potential candidate is sending a different message: Republicans can't get ahead of themselves.
Palin, this year's Republican vice presidential nominee, is going to talk to Republican governors Thursday in a panel discussion called "Looking Towards the Future: The GOP in Transition." She's already making it clear that she wants to be a big part of that transition.
She was asked Wednesday, after arriving at the Republican Governors Association conference, about speculation that she is the party's future.
"I don't think it's me personally, I think it's what I represent," Palin told reporters. "Everyday hardworking American families -- a woman on the ticket perhaps represents that. It would be good for the ticket. It would be good for the party. I would be happy to get to do whatever is asked of me to help progress this nation."
Later, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told his peers that now isn't the time to think about the next presidential election.
"Anybody here tonight that has thought about the 2012 presidential election needs to keep their eye on the ball," Barbour, a former Republican Party chairman, told a reception for the governors and their supporters. "We don't need to talk about 2012."
Instead, he said the future of the Republican Party is with its governors since the GOP has lost power in Congress and the White House. With 38 governors' seats up for election in the next two years, that's what the party has to focus on, he said.
"That's how you get your party back going. And if you think this is practice time for people running for president in 2012, they need to get back in line. The next two years are the years that matter," Barbour said.
Palin didn't attend events with the governors on Wednesday, instead choosing to do interviews with CNN. On Thursday, she planned a news conference before starting a panel discussion on the party's future. While several of the governors at the conference are considered potential candidates in 2012, she is the only one acknowledging that she'll consider it.
Among others talked about as potential nominees are Barbour and Govs. Charlie Crist of Florida, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Each had advice for the party, but none discussed their personal 2012 plans.
The governors, though, faced a lot of questions about Palin, who energized the Republican base but wasn't as popular with independent voters in the election she and John McCain lost to Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
"Gov. Palin is an extremely talented person and she's going to be one of the key voices for the party, for the Republicans, for a long time to come," Pawlenty said.
But he, like other governors, was careful in what he said about Palin, her role in the last election and her future.
"We're still getting to know her," Pawlenty said. "All I can say is that John McCain made it very clear that one of his key criteria for selecting a VP running mate was going to be, amongst other things, was that person was ready to be president from day one. So in his judgment she met that criteria and he felt strongly about that and so I would have to defer to his judgment."
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is sending signals that she is open to running for president in 2012, but another potential candidate is sending a different message: Republicans can't get ahead of themselves.