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Palin's weekend road trip across the Midwest

Alex Moe/NBC News

Gov. Sarah Palin inspects Ronald Reagan memorabilia at the Ronald Reagan museum at Eureka College in Eureka, Ill.

After a roughly two-month hiatus, Sarah Palin's "One Nation" bus tour was back on the road this weekend. This time, she traveled across the Midwest, where she learned about past U.S. presidents -- and reacted to developing news about the 2012 presidential race.
 
Earlier this week, the former Alaska governor announced on her website that she would be stopping by the Iowa State Fair on Friday, which put the political world on edge as she was coming to such an important early nominating state -- the day before the closely watched Ames Straw Poll.
 
While at the fair, Palin said that she still considers herself a “potential candidate,” and that she will make her decision in the coming months, so her supporters will have time to choose another candidate if she’s a no.
 
“I don't want to be seen as stringing people along,” Palin said at the state fair when speaking of a timeline to decide if she will run for president this cycle.
 
But after leaving Iowa early Saturday, the bus trip took a different focus -- on American history. Like the tour through the Northeast back in May, Palin (along with her husband Todd, daughter Piper, and her niece) visited some significant historical sites.
 
"This is one of those places everyone in America should come to get a sense of Ronald Reagan's foundation -- to understand his humbleness and graciousness,” the 2008 vice presidential candidate said in Dixon, IL outside the boyhood home of the 40th president.
 
As the SarahPAC caravan (consisting of an SUV, minivan, and bus) drove through Illinois -- even on some dirt roads -- passing cars would slow down to snap pictures out the window, and some even honked and waved. Palin was greeted at every stop, including some of the hotels, by crowds of people wishing to take a photo with her or snag an autograph.
 
While the family was visiting Eureka College, Reagan's alma mater in Illinois, the results of the Ames Straw Poll were released –- a sobering reminder that the presidential campaign is fully underway without her.
 
Michele Bachmann's win, Palin told NBC News, will not impact her decision whether or not she jumps in the race. “The prediction was that it would either be Ron Paul or Michele Bachmann, because they spent a lot of time and energy to make sure they had delegates there who would cast those votes -- so not really a surprise,” Palin said in Eureka.
 
And just a few hours after the straw poll, as the Palin family was preparing to make their last stop on this leg of the tour to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, IL, news broke that former Gov. Tim Pawlenty was dropping out of the race.
 
“So I really, really hope the best for Gov. Pawlenty," Palin told NBC News during her tour of the museum. "He is a good man, and disappointed that he dropped out.”
 
“We still have many months to go, and I think we will see more people coming and going,” Palin added during a follow-up question standing in front of a replica White House.
 
Palin is scheduled to come back to the Hawkeye State Labor Day weekend.

Gov. Sarah Palin told NBC's Alex Moe that she was very disappointed that Gov. Tim Pawlenty dropped out of the 2012 presidential race because she wishes the voters were able to decide who is in and who is out.