Sarah Palin to Step Down as Alaska Gov.

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Alaska Governor Sarah Palin threw the political world a curveball by announcing Friday that she will resign from office July 26, fueling more speculation that she is positioning herself to be a GOP contender for the 2012 presidential election.

"Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional lame duck status in this particular climate would just be another dose of politics as usual, something I campaigned against and will always oppose," Palin said, speaking from her Wasilla home.

Click play to watch Gov. Palin's resignation speech from her home in Alaska.

According to a Palin aide, the first term governor is stepping down "so that she can take the fight for her issues elsewhere."

The Republican governor's abrupt resignation raised speculation that she will now work to build a team for a 2012 presidential bid. However, Palin has not confirmed any such plans.

In her speech, Palin compared herself to a good point guard facing "a full court press from the national level."

"She knows exactly when to pass the ball so that a team can win," she said.

Todd Palin told Fox News his wife will stay focused on "doing the things for Alaska and the country."

Reaction from the political world was quick. Former GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney issued his response only hours after Palin's announcement.

"I wish Sarah Palin and her family well, and I know that she will continue to be a strong voice in the Republican Party," he said.

CBN News' David Brody, who covered the 2008 presidential campaign extensively, said he's not convinced this is the last the country will hear from Palin.

He says that stepping down now allows her time to buff up on her some of percieved weaknesses as a presidential candidate.

"By stepping down as governor, Palin can get away from it all. While working behind the scenes to see if a Presidential run makes sense, she can also hit the books," Brody writes on his politcal blog The Brody File.

"She can study up on Supreme Court decisions she may disagree with. Write some public policy white papers, go be an expert on a couple key domestic issues and play advocate in chief as she travels around the country pushing those issues," he says.

"By doing all of that, Sarah Palin can come back as Sarah 2.0," Brody adds. "The bar is low at this point, so imagine if she comes back running for President as a new and improved polished product." Read more of his blog here.

Palin will transfer the governorship to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell,  who will be sworn in at the end of July.

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