JUNEAU, Alaska — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has yet to announce whether she'll run for president, but she's captured the national spotlight at key times this summer for contenders in the GOP field.

The attention has allowed her to stay in the political conversation without being exposed to the rigors and scrutiny of a campaign.

But, should she run, she may have hurt herself by playing the wait-and-see game for so long. Like Palin, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann have strong tea party support. Their rise in popularity raises questions about whether Palin has turned off potential supporters. Recent polling has shown Palin wouldn't have an automatic grasp on the nomination.

But Palin's hardcore backers say she'll decide in her own time, and they'll support her no matter what she decides.