"Of course she can," said the Arizona senator of Palin's chances in the hypothetical match-up on "Fox News Sunday." He added, however, that he doesn't know whether his 2008 running mate will ultimately decide to make a run for the White House.
The remarks from McCain come the same day that Palin is kicking off a bus tour of the eastern United States. The move, along with news of a documentary premiering next month on the rise of the big name Republican and her tenure as governor have stirred speculation that Palin could jump into the GOP primary race.
In discussing a potential Palin 2012 campaign, McCain said, “I’ve never seen anyone as mercilessly and relentlessly attacked as I have seen Sarah Palin in the last couple of years.” According to The Hill, he added, “But she also inspires great passion, particularly among the Republican faithful."
HuffPost's Jon Ward reports on the launch of Palin's bus tour:
"Starting this weekend, Sarah Palin will embark on a One Nation tour of historical sites that were key to the formation, survival, and growth of the United States of America," said Tim Crawford, treasurer of Palin's fundraising group, SarahPAC, in a statement provided to The Huffington Post. "The tour will originate in Washington DC and will proceed north up the east coast. More information will follow."
Palin will kick things off Sunday by taking part in the "Rolling Thunder" motorcycle ride -- comprised mainly of U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War -- that begins at the Pentagon and concludes at the Vietnam Memorial on the National Mall.
The AP reports on Palin's standing in one of the latest polls out on the GOP presidential primary:
A Gallup poll of Republicans, taken before Palin announced the bus tour, showed former Massachusetts Mitt Romney favored by 17 percent. Palin followed closely at 15 percent. Ron Paul had 10 percent, Newt Gingrich 9 percent, Herman Cain 8 percent, Tim Pawlenty 6 percent, and Michele Bachmann and Jon Huntsman 5 percent each.
It remains to be seen whether Palin will run for president in the next election cycle. However, the former governor did say during a recent appearance on Fox News, "I am so adamantly supportive of the good, traditional things about America and our free enterprise system, and I want to make sure that America is put back on the right track, and we only do that by defeating Obama in 2012. I have that fire in my belly."