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“Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional lame-duck status in this particular climate would just be another dose of politics as usual, something I campaigned against and will always oppose,” she said.

After a lengthy recital of her achievements as governor, Mrs. Palin bemoaned the amount of time and resources she had to devote to personal legal battles and overcoming negative press coverage.

“You are naive if you don’t see a full-court press on a national level” attacking her, she said, appealing to Alaskans. “All I can ask is that you trust me with this decision.”

Mrs. Palin remains one of her party’s most charismatic figures and one of its most sought-after speakers 11 months after she burst onto the national political scene when Mr. McCain tapped her as his vice-presidential choice.

She proved a potent draw among the Republican faithful, but Mr. McCain’s selection was also criticized by some, and she was the target of ridicule in devastating “Saturday Night Live” sketches by comedian Tina Fey.

Since then, Mrs. Palin has remained popular with the grass-roots of her party, especially among social conservatives, though lately she has come under sharp attack from some of Mr. McCain’s top campaign aides as someone who proved unready for the rough-and-tumble of national politics in last year’s race.

She has run a gauntlet of ethics investigations sought by state Democrats in the past few months, though all charges to date have been dismissed.

Still, she was said to be frustrated about being tied down to the governorship while other rivals for the presidential nomination, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, were able to campaign full time.

In a statement released by his office, Mr. Romney said, “I wish Sarah Palin and her family well, and I know that she will continue to be a strong voice in the Republican Party.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele said he would be “talking to Governor Palin very soon. She is an important and galvanizing voice in the Republican Party. I believe she will be very helpful to the party this year as we wage critical campaigns in Virginia and New Jersey.”

Mrs. Palin’s decision to step down as governor follows the announcement June 2 by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota that he would not run for a third term next year. Mr. Pawlenty has also been mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 2012.

While not detailing her plans, Mrs. Palin has been building up her political warchest in recent days, even as speculation over her political future mounted.

The Anchorage Daily News reported earlier this week that SarahPAC, the governor’s political action campaign, sent out an e-mail seeking new contributions from supporters, in part to boost Mrs. Palin’s fundraising totals ahead of the June 30 reporting deadline to the Federal Election Commission.

“With your help, we can take the governor’s message and encourage others who also have hope and are firmly rooted in the conservative belief that you know best how to spend your money and not government,” wrote SarahPAC spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton in the e-mail solicitation.

Christina Bellantoni, Ralph Z. Hallow and Joseph Curl contributed to this report.