Scott Conroy describes this as Palin having “dinged” him, but it’s so gentle a jab that it barely connects. In fact, given that it invites an obvious retort about her changing her mind on finishing her term, I doubt she meant it as a knock — even if his entry (and Bachmann’s) has obviously complicated her strategy of being the tea-party savior who smites Romney. How bitter can she be if she went on to say of Perry, “I would be extremely enthused about him” if he’s the nominee?

“I was quite sure that he wasn’t going to run, because he was adamant until about four months ago that he wasn’t going to run,” she said. But she was quick to add that Perry’s change of heart was fine. “I was surprised that he had changed his position on that, but I’m glad that he’s going to be in there.”

A reporter asked whether, if Obama had committed that sort of flip-flop, she would be more critical, she laughed. “I probably would, to tell you the truth,” she said…

Even with Perry in the race, she said, “I see room in the field. Definitely.”

“If at the end of the line he’s the one left standing, I would be extremely enthused about him because I’m a believer in ABO – anybody but Obama. So, absolutely. But there’s still a long time in this process,” Palin said, adding that Perry’s entry doesn’t affect her decision making.

She noted in the course of another answer that the governor’s role in Alaska is powerful whereas the governor’s role in Texas isn’t (true), which the press also tried to turn into an attack on Perry. She got exasperated at that, emphasizing that she was describing the positions in the abstract, not the inhabitants of them. Weigel has the full quote. Needless to say, if she jumps in, the barest hint of conflict between grassroots heroes like her, Perry, and Bachmann — replete with rhetorical bloodletting among their respective tea-party bases — will produce a full-body mediagasm. No surprise then that she also got a question today about supposed tensions between her and Bachmann, which she deflected.

To my surprise, there’s not much video floating around of her appearance. This clip, via C4P, is the best of a small bunch; she addresses Bachmann’s answer to the “submission” question last night at the end. The chairman of the Iowa GOP nudged her yesterday about making face time with the locals if she really intends to run, so consider this an early step in that process. (She told reporters today she’ll make a decision in another month or two so that her supporters don’t feel strung along.) Oh, and she was also asked whether she could support Romney if he’s the nominee. Answer: Yep. “Iā€™m of the mind of ABO ā€” Anybody But Obama, at this time.” Maybe tea partiers won’t be staying home after all.

Update: Just found a better clip at CNN than the one I originally posted. The “submission” answer is here too, as well as her comments about Bachmann.