Kinda surprised this leaked so early. For maximum impact it could have dropped, say, a week or so before the Ames straw poll, just to remind Bachmann and Cain voters who prefer Palin to keep their powder dry.

Maybe she has something else newsworthy planned shortly before Ames?

In the latest indication that her sights are still set on a presidential run, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has accepted an invitation to keynote a Tea Party rally in Waukee, Iowa, on Sept. 3, RealClearPolitics has learned.

The Labor Day weekend visit to the nation’s first voting state comes after Palin indicated during an appearance on Fox News earlier this month that she would make her decision about whether to launch a campaign in August or September.

All signs now point to September as the month when Palin would throw her hat into the ring, as logistical concerns ranging from fundraising to getting her name on the ballot in various states would likely preclude further delay…

“I can only surmise that she’s very, very popular here,” [Charlie] Gruschow [of the Tea Party of America] said of Palin’s level of support among Republican caucus-goers in Iowa. “And it didn’t hurt at all when she introduced her movie in Pella. The feedback I’ve gotten was it was an awesome movie, and there are more people becoming more endeared to her.”

Remember, Perry’s supposedly set to declare during the second half of August so his announcement buzz will be fading just as the tea party rally takes place. If Palin’s own announcement follows quickly thereafter, she could suck up lots of the early oxygen he needs among the base. Or maybe she’ll surprise everyone by turning around, announcing that she’s not running, and endorsing him instead, which would presumably make him the instant favorite on the right to challenge Romney for the nomination. Ironically, given the near-certainty that Perry’s in, Mitt probably needs Palin to run too now so that the tea-party vote gets divvied up among the two of them and Bachmann. Exit question: Is Palin better off announcing before or after the tea-party rally? If she waits until after, she gets to surf the media buzz from her keynote speech. But if she does it before — which would really bigfoot Perry’s launch — then she gets to appear at the rally as a real candidate and use it as an opportunity to be anointed the semi-official tea-party choice. Tough call.