Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin holds a booklet on Paul Revere during a stop… (Steven Senne, Associated…)
Reporting from Washington — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin apologized Sunday for upstaging Republican Mitt Romney's formal campaign announcement last week.
The 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee said she didn't mean to step on toes when her bus rolled into a nearby town just as Romney was making his presidential candidacy formal at a New Hampshire farm.
"I apologize if I stepped on any of that PR that Mitt Romney needed or wanted that day," Palin, a paid commentator for Fox, told "Fox News Sunday."
A Romney aide, responding to an inquiry, pointed to Romney's comment to a Fox interviewer last week, in which he denied having been bothered by Palin's actions and praised the "energy and passion" she adds to the Republican campaign.
On Sunday, Palin said her highly publicized bus cavalcade had not moved her closer to a 2012 run. She is "still right there in the middle," she told host Chris Wallace, "still trying to figure out what the lay of the land will be as these weeks and months go by."
Palin rejected Wallace's suggestion that she "messed up" a historical reference during a stop on her bus tour, when she described Paul Revere's midnight ride as a warning to "the British that they weren't going to be taking away our arms, by ringing those bells and by making sure that as he's riding his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we were going to be secure and we were going to be free … and we were going to be armed."
Revere's 1775 ride, on the eve of the Revolutionary War, was designed to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that British troops were coming to arrest them. Along the way, Revere also alerted residents that the British were on the march.
"You know what, I didn't mess up about Paul Revere," Palin insisted. "I know my American history."
Palin maintained that "part of his ride was to warn the British, that were already there, that, 'Hey, you're not going to succeed. You're not going to take American arms. You are not going to beat our own well-armed persons, individual private militia that we have.' He did warn the British."
The historical record does not support Palin's contention that Revere intended to warn the British. In fact, he attempted to evade British troops that night, but a patrol intercepted him and questioned him at gunpoint.
According to Revere's account, in a letter written almost a quarter of a century later, he told British officers "that there would be 500 Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the country all the way up."
Palin, for the last year, has sent mixed signals about a presidential try. During that time, her poll numbers have deteriorated and other candidates have won commitments from activists and Republican voters.
Despite her attention-grabbing bus tour, she has not taken the usual steps to build a national campaign organization. Another sign that a presidential run is not imminent: Palin remains on the Fox payroll.
The network suspended two other Republicans, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, when they explored presidential candidacies, on grounds that it would be a conflict of interest for them to be on the air as paid contributors at the same time. The network never suspended Mike Huckabee, however, as he spent months saying he wasn't sure whether he'd run in 2012; the former Arkansas governor eventually announced he would not be a candidate.
During her "One Nation" bus tour, Palin met with Fox News executives in New York, including Roger Ailes, the former Republican campaign strategist who heads the network. Officials did not provide details of the meeting. But a Fox executive said afterward there had been no change in Palin's status with the network.