If she’d refused, I would have taken it as the most compelling sign yet that she’s not running. It’s simply too golden an opportunity to make a splash in a key primary state to pass up.

*Splash*:

“We are very excited to visit historic Pella and its opera house and look forward to seeing the finished film for the first time with fellow Americans from the heartland,” Palin, who was Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s running mate in 2008, said in a news release this morning…

Longtime GOP campaign strategist Robert Haus said he thinks Palin deliberately chose to come to Iowa “smack dab in the middle of two other big events in the state.”

“Her timing is impeccable,” said Haus, of Urbandale. “Clearly she has not ruled out a run for president.”…

“She’s made a very good career out of confounding conventional wisdom,” Haus said.

Actually, the premiere will take place smack dab in the middle of three other biggish local events. Gingrich is appearing on Wednesday morning, the day after the fim’s debut, at a tea-party event in Iowa, which is … not so big. Obama will visit an Alcoa factory on Tuesday afternoon in Bettendorf, Iowa, just a few hours before it screens in Pella, which is pretty big. And Bachmann will launch her own presidential campaign in Waterloo on Monday, which is darned big. So many newsworthy political stories, so little front-page space for a poor Iowa newspaper editor to apportion. As for the premiere itself, invitees include Breitbart, Tammy Bruce, Mark Levin, and plenty of local citizens — but not, according to director Stephen Bannon, any of “the political muckety mucks.” Really? If I had just made a film designed to get someone elected president and was set to roll it out in Iowa, with the would-be candidate herself in attendance, I would think I’d be helping her out by having a muckety-muck or two in attendance. You can intone about shunning “the establishment” and running a “different kind of campaign” if you like, but making friends with people who are influential in local politics is good business. Hope Bannon knows what he’s doing.

Conservatives4Palin is urging all Palinistas to show up in Pella if they can in hopes that a huge turnout will sway her on running. Quote: “The sense I get is that Palin is trying to analyze the amount of spontaneous support that exists for her potential candidacy as she may view spontaneous support as one of the leading indicators of the strength of one’s support.” I think there’s truth to that, but it deepens the mystery of why she didn’t release her bus tour itinerary ahead of time so that crowds of her supporters could come out to greet her along the way. In fact, some of them came out anyway in the hope that the tour would roll into town while they were there. The photo ops of throngs of Palin fans rushing to greet her as she got off the bus would have been sensational.

Here’s Bannon talking to Warner Todd Huston of Publius Forum a week ago at the Right Online conference.