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“I would warn voters to never put their faith wholly in an individual politician,” she cautioned, “because a politician will disappoint you. But have faith in what that politician stands for, what their record represents.”

When Lauer asked her why voters should put Obama out of office when recent signs suggest things are improving under his economic policies, Palin replied, “They aren’t getting better fast enough.”

Palin’s appearance is part of a nonstop campaign waged by “Today” to protect its 15-year winning streak over “GMA,” a fight intensifying as the audience margin between the two rivals steadily erodes.

Palin’s booking appeared to be a counterpunch after ABC announced Couric’s weeklong morning show return on ABC.

Another much-plugged feature was “a big NBC announcement” by ubiquitous TV personality Ryan Seacrest. Originally set for Tuesday’s show, it was delayed until Wednesday as Seacrest recovers from elbow surgery.

In hyping Palin’s appearance, NBC promised she would “reveal a different side” than viewers have seen before.

Maybe so. Still identified with her red blazers, Palin on “Today” was trim in black accented with a red scarf, with her hair down and lightly frosted.

An image makeover? Maybe. But she acknowledged that her 2008 campaign association with a TV leading lady besides Couric still holds strong nearly four years later: Palin said a woman had stopped her outside NBC earlier and asked where she was headed.

“`I said 30 Rock,’ and she said, `Oh, honey, come here! I told you: Tina Fey is here!’”


Associated Press Writer Alicia Rancilio contributed to this report.