Iowa Tea Party Leader Courted By Potential 2012 Candidates

At first, influential Iowa Tea Party leader Ryan Rhodes says he wasn't sure about Peter Singleton wanting to meet to talk about Sarah Palin.

"I didn't know if he was even connected with her," says Rhodes.

But over the course of several meetings which began back in November, Rhodes became convinced Singleton was on an scouting expedition for Palin in Iowa, home of the first 2012 presidential contest.

Singleton, an attorney from Menlo Park, California, is a Palin supporter. Campaign finance reports show he donated to SarahPAC, Palin's political action committee, in 2009 and to the Iowa Republican Party just last fall.

A senior Iowa Republican tells the Fox News Channel Singleton bought a table at the September, 2010 Reagan Dinner -- annually the Iowa GOP's largest fund-raiser -- where Palin was the featured speaker. However, Singleton did not attend the event.

Rhodes says Singleton, "...wanted to know what [Palin's] chances were in Iowa, what she needed to do and where I stood."

The Des Moines Register lists Ryan Rhodes as one of the "50 Most Wanted" GOP political operatives in Iowa.

But is he ready to back Palin?

Rhodes says he would need to talk with Palin, "personally, one-on-one" before deciding. But right now Palin is among Rhodes' early favorites along with Indiana Congressman Mike Pence and Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann.

On Friday night, Bachmann speaks to a Des Moines gathering of Iowans for Tax Relief, the largest issue advocacy group in the state and Rhodes will be there.

And yes, Michelle Bachmann's people have asked to speak with him, too.