(AP) - Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will headline the Iowa Republican Party's biggest annual fundraiser, party officials announced Tuesday.
The appearance will give Palin, often talked about as a possible 2012 presidential contender, a prominent political role in the state that launches the presidential nominating process.
The Sept. 17 speech at the annual Reagan Dinner in Des Moines will be the 2008 vice presidential candidate's first visit to Iowa since a brief stop last December during a book-signing tour.
"I know Iowa Republicans will be energized and motivated by Governor Palin to stand up and fight for these principles all the way to Election Day and beyond," said Matt Strawn, chairman of the Iowa Republican Party.
Ed Failor Jr., head of Iowans for Tax Relief, said Palin was doing the task most important to the party: raising money. Tickets for the dinner cost $100 each.
"She will make a lot of money," Failor said. "That's the biggest thing she can do is raise a lot of money."
Republican strategist Bob Haus said Palin's visit also would energize Republican activists as the November election approaches. Republicans hope the election will enable them to retake the governorship, re-elect longtime U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley and take back control of the state House.
Palin is considered the superstar of the Republican Party, with members paying close attention to her endorsements and showing up in big numbers for appearances like last weekend's at the "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington, D.C.
The rally was organized by conservative commentator Glenn Beck.
Details for the Reagan Dinner are still being finalized, largely because Palin's presence will elevate the event.
"I think to the audience that is going to be there, she is an energizing figure," Haus said. "She is going to help drive the intensity and enthusiasm of the Republican base."
Palin's visit will follow repeated appearances by others mentioned as potential 2012 presidential candidates.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have all made repeated stops in the state. Gingrich aides announced Tuesday he will return to Iowa on Sept. 9.
Potential presidential candidates traditionally open their campaigns by helping local candidates, building ties that carry over to the presidential race. Some see Palin as following that path.
"Governor Palin recognizes Iowa as an important state with a lot of important races up and down the ballot," said Tim Albrecht, a spokesman for former Gov. Terry Branstad, who is trying to return to the office he held for 16 years. "I think she's focused on this year. In terms of 2012, the exposure certainly won't hurt."
Failor acknowledged Palin is a polarizing figure, but said polls show she's overwhelmingly popular among Republicans.
"She's sort of the Hillary Clinton of the Republican Party," Failor said.
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