Washington (CNN) - Sarah Palin's advisers have long suggested that the former Alaska governor can afford to wait longer than other potential presidential candidates to enter the 2012 Republican primary race - possibly as late as the fall - thanks to her star power and built-in following among some grassroots conservatives.
But the head of the Iowa Republican Party told reporters Thursday that such a game plan could prove "risky" in his state, which traditionally hosts the first contest of presidential nomination fight.
"History would suggest that's a very risky strategy related to the Iowa caucuses," Iowa GOP chairman Matthew Strawn said during a sit-down with reporters at Republican National Committee headquarters in Washington. "The one thing that Iowans don't want to be is taken for granted."
While other potential GOP contenders have started dialing state lawmakers, reaching out key activists and making staff hires in the Hawkeye State, Palin has been largely silent in the state since headlining the state GOP's annual Reagan Dinner last September.
"There is an expectation that you're going to get the opportunity to ask these candidates the tough questions, face-to-face, whether it's in a town hall or a coffee shop or at our farm co-ops," Strawn said. "I don't see that changing this cycle. If you want the votes of the Iowa caucus goers, you need to be in Iowa asking for then and giving Iowans the opportunity to ask you the tough questions."