Former Tea Party darling Sarah Palin has warned Republicans not to ignore and marginalize Ron Paul and his supporters.

Speaking to Fox Business News on Tuesday night (before the final results of the Iowa caucuses were tallied), the former governor of Alaska and 2008 vice presidential candidate said: “Here’s the deal. The GOP would be so remiss to marginalize Ron Paul and his supporters as we come out of Iowa tonight and move down the road to New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida, et cetera.”

She added: “If we marginalize these supporters who have been touched by Ron Paul and what he believed in over these years, well, then, through a third-party run of Ron Paul’s or the Democrats capturing those independents and these libertarians who supported what Ron Paul’s been talking about, well, then the GOP is going to lose. And then there will be no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Palin added that the “worst thing” the Republican Party could do is marginalize the Texas congressman.

She also gave Paul some begrudging admiration.

While noting she doesn’t agree with his views on foreign policy, Palin declared that Paul: “does have good ideas when it comes to the austerity measures that domestically we must engage in, in order to be secure, in order to be solvent as a nation. The supporters of Ron Paul, they hear that. They have been touched by that.”

As it turned out, Paul finished third in the Iowa contest, behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum in an extremely tight race.

Palin also commented on Paul’s chances of winning the White House, and on how a potential third-party run might affect the 2012 race.

“I would not predict that he would be elected president,” she said.

“What we can predict, though, is his supporters would convince him to perhaps mount a third-party effort, and that, unfortunately, would strengthen the incumbent’s chances of reelection, and that is the last thing our country can afford is four more years of Obama’s failed job policies that has only exacerbated the problems that he, as he loves to preach about, that he inherited. He has made it worse. And a third-party run, unfortunately, I think, would give Obama a better chance of winning again. “

Finally, Palin said she had no regrets about not running for president herself.

“No,” she said. “You know why? I don’t think, at this time in my life, that I’m wired to be one, to be saying pick me, pick me, I’m smarter than you are, I’m more equipped than you are, pick me. I’ve never been able to do that, and I don’t see that evolution taking place in the last few years.”

Palin’s own designs on a possible 2012 run seemed to have been temporarily dashed by an unflattering biography released last year by author Joe McGinnis.