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Did Palin give herself a helping hand?

Does Sarah Palin have her political future in hand?

The former Alaska governor and conservative media star inched closer Sunday to running for president, even as controversy erupted over her apparent use of a cheat sheet written on her hand during this weekend’s Tea Party convention.

During a question and answer session following her keynote address in Nashville Saturday, Palin was seen glancing down at her hand, where the words “energy,” “tax cuts” and “lifting America’s spirits” were written in black ink. It appears the word “budget” was crossed out and replaced with “tax.”

As she talked about reining in federal spending, Palin looked at her hand and then changed the subject to energy. This came after a speech in which she criticized President Barack Obama’s use of a TelePrompTer.

“It’s indicative of her hypocrisy,” said Denis Abrams, 58, of Manhattan. “She’s trying to pretend that she is so brilliant that she doesn’t even need notes. But she’s not even close.”

It was the latest gaffe for the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, whose flubs have helped fuel a perception among many that she is uninformed.

During a debate in 2008, she referred to Obama’s running mate Joe Biden as “Sen. O’Biden,” which an adviser to Sen. John McCain later said was a persistent problem. After the election, several former campaign aides publicly accused her of having little knowledge of current events.

In an interview aired Sunday on Fox News, Palin, who was tops in a recent poll of potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates, indicated she wants to run.

“I would if I believe that that is the right thing to do for our country and for the Palin family,” she said..

She did not respond Sunday to a request for comment on her hand notes.

To many political analysts, what is already being described as “hand gate” is representative of the problems Palin faces as a candidate.

“I think these things become part of the narrative,” said Brett Gary, a professor of media, culture and politics at NYU. “It provides additional evidence of her inadequacy.”

Mike Edelman, a New York Republican political consultant, said that while Palin’s remains extremely popular on the right, she lacks the “depth of knowledge” needed to appeal to the independent voters who decide elections.

“She wouldn’t have a chance as a national candidate,” he said.

Others said her use of crib notes won’t have any lasting damage.

“I think they all do it, sadly,” said Kathryn Gracey, 40, of Manhattan.

Robert Shapiro, a political science professor at Columbia, said Palin would recover.

“Mispronouncing names and personal quirks at this stage will very likely be long forgotten, if noticed now at all, by voters,” he said.

Nick Klopsis contributed to this story

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