11/05/2008 AT 4:40 PM ET
After shedding tears during John McCain’s concession speech, Sarah Palin returned to Alaska on Wednesday to run the state in person after doing it by Blackberry from the campaign trail.
“I am neither bitter nor vanquished,” she told supporters in a phone call at an event at the Multi-Use Sports Complex in her hometown of Wasilla, “but very confident in the knowledge that there will be another day.”
Exactly what Palin will do next will be one of the most watched political stories of the coming years. Palin, already on the short list of those with a chance at the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, promises to be a less divisive figure than she was during this year’s campaign.
“If there’s a role for me in national politics it won’t be so much partisan,” Palin, 44, tells the Chicago Tribune while waiting in line for coffee at a Wasilla café. “It will certainly be a unifier-type of role.”
More certain is the fate of her No. 1 impersonator, Tina Fey, who has vowed to hang up her Palin wig from Saturday Night Live for good, the actress tells Entertainment Weekly.
“I have to retire just because I have to do my day job,” says Fey, the creator and star of 30 Rock, which got a ratings boost for its premiere Oct. 30.
Palin – the real one – was welling with tears during McCain’s concession speech, even as the Arizona senator who plucked the mother of five out of relative obscurity to be his running mate called her “one of the best campaigners I have ever seen.”
“I’m sure with her there’s a sense she feels she was getting started,” a senior McCain staffer tells PEOPLE. “She thinks if she had more time she might have been able to make more of a difference.”
Adds the staffer, “We haven’t heard the last from her.”
Additional reporting by LIZ McNEIL