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Sarah Louise Palin ( ; née Heath; born February 11, 1964) is an Americanmarker politician who served as Governor of Alaska from 2006 until her resignation in 2009. She was the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States in 2008.

Palin was a member of the Wasilla, Alaskamarker, city council from 1992 to 1996 and the city's mayor from 1996 to 2002. After an unsuccessful campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Alaska in 2002, she chaired the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from 2003 until her resignation in 2004. She was elected Governor of Alaska in November 2006. Palin became the first female governor of Alaska and the youngest person ever elected governor of that state.

In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain chose Palin as his running mate in that year's presidential election, making her the second female candidate and the first Alaskan candidate of either major party on a national ticket, as well as the first female vice-presidential nominee of the Republican Party. Since the defeat of the McCain–Palin ticket in the 2008 election, there has been speculation that she may run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.

On , Palin announced she would not seek reelection as governor and that she was resigning, effective , eighteen months prior to the completion of her first term. She cited ethics complaints that had been filed following her selection as running mate to John McCain as the reason for her resignation, saying the resulting investigations had affected her efficacy to govern the state.

Early life and career

Palin was born in Sandpointmarker, Idahomarker, the third of four children born to Sarah and Charles R. Heath, respectively a school secretary and science teacher / track coach. The family moved to Alaska when she was an infant. She attended Wasilla High Schoolmarker, where she was the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and a member of the girls' cross country team. As captain and point guard of the school's girls' basketball team that won the Alaska state championship in 1982, she gained the nickname "Barracuda" for her competitive streak. She graduated in 1982.

She attended Hawaii Pacific Universitymarker in the Fall of 1982 and North Idaho Collegemarker (whose Alumni Association gave her the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in June 2008) in the Spring and Fall of 1983. In 1984, after winning the Miss Wasilla pageant,she finished third in the Miss Alaska pageant,receiving the "Miss Congeniality" award and a college scholarship.

She attended the University of Idahomarker in the Fall of 1984 and Spring of 1985, Matanuska-Susitna College in the Fall of 1985, and the University of Idaho again in the Spring and Fall of 1986 and the Fall of 1987, when she received her Bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism.

Palin's early ambition was to be a sportscaster. Accordingly, after graduating, she worked as a sportscaster for KTUU-TVmarker and KTVA-TVmarker in Anchoragemarker, and as a sports reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman. In 1988, she eloped with her childhood sweetheart Todd Palin, believing that her parents "couldn't afford a big white wedding." After the marriage, she helped in her husband’s commercial fishing business.

Early political career

Wasilla city council

Motivated by concerns that revenue from a new Wasilla sales tax would not be spent wisely, Palin was elected to the city council of Wasillamarker in 1992. She won 530 votes to 310. She ran for reelection in 1995, winning by 413 votes to 185, but did not complete her second term on the city council because she was elected mayor in 1996. Throughout her tenure on the city council and the rest of her career, Palin has been a registered Republican.

Mayor of Wasilla

Palin served two three-year terms (1996–2002) as the mayor of Wasillamarker. In 1996, she defeated three-term incumbent mayor John Stein, [194228] on a platform targeting wasteful spending and high taxes. Stein says that Palin introduced abortion, gun rights, and term limits as campaign issues. Although the election was a nonpartisan blanket primary, the state Republican Party ran advertisements on her behalf. At the conclusion of Palin's tenure as mayor in 2002, the city had about 6,300 residents. In 2008, Wasilla's mayor credited Palin's tax cuts and infrastructural improvements with helping the local economy, "br[inging] the big-box stores to Wasilla, ... helping Wasilla grow and draw 50,000 shoppers a day." The Boston Globe quoted a local business owner as crediting Palin with making the town "more of a community ... It's no longer a little strip town that you can blow through in a heartbeat."

First term

Shortly after taking office in October 1996, Palin consolidated the position of museum director and asked for updated resumes and resignation letters from "city department heads who had been loyal to Stein," including the police chief, public works director, finance director, and librarian. Palin stated this request was to find out their intentions and whether they supported her. She temporarily required department heads to get her approval before talking to reporters, saying that they first needed to become acquainted with her administration's policies. She created the position of city administrator, and reduced her own $68,000 salary by 10%, although by mid-1998 this was reversed by the city council.

During her first year in office, Palin kept a jar with the names of Wasilla residents on her desk. Once a week, she pulled a name from it and picked up the phone; she would ask: "How's the city doing?" Using income generated by a 2% sales tax that was enacted before she was elected to the city council, Palin cut property taxes by 75% and eliminated personal property and business inventory taxes. Using municipal bonds, she made improvements to the roads and sewers, and increased funding to the Police Department. She also oversaw new bike paths and procured funding for storm-water treatment to protect freshwater resources. At the same time, the city reduced spending on the town museum and stopped construction of a new library and city hall.

Palin ran for re-election against Stein in 1999 and won, with 74% of the vote.She was also elected president of the Alaska Conference of Mayors.

Palin appointed Charles Fannon to replace Stambaugh as police chief.

Second term

During her second term as mayor, Palin introduced a ballot measure proposing the construction of a municipal sports center to be financed by a 0.5% sales tax increase.The $14.7 million Wasilla Multi-Use Sports Complexmarker was built on time and under budget, but the city spent an additional $1.3 million because of an eminent domain lawsuit caused by the failure to obtain clear title to the property before beginning construction. The city's long-term debt grew from about $1 million to $25 million through voter-approved indebtedness of $15 million for the sports complex, $5.5 million for street projects, and $3 million for water improvement projects. A city council member defended the spending increases as being caused by the city's growth during that time.

Palin also joined with nearby communities in jointly hiring the Anchorage-based lobbying firm of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh to lobby for federal funds. The firm secured nearly $8 million in earmarked funds for the Wasilla city government.Earmarks included $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, and $900,000 for sewer repairs.Term limits in the Wasilla Municipal Code proscribe candidates from running for more than two consecutive terms.


Wasilla librarian Mary Ellen Emmons strongly objected to remarks by Palin that Emmons characterized as being about censorship. Emmons said that Palin asked two or three times in October 1996 if she would object to books being removed from the library. Palin has said the question was "rhetorical". John Stein, the former mayor of Wasilla and Palin's 1996 political opponent, said in September 2008 that Palin's "religious beliefs," and the concerns of some voters about language in the books, motivated her inquiries. In December 1996, Palin said she had no books or other material in mind for removal. No books were removed from the library,and Palin stated in 2006 that she would not allow her personal religious beliefs to dictate her political positions.

Police Chief Irl Stambaugh, who was fired by Palin, was previously nominated to be Alaska's Municipal Employee of the Year. Because he had heard that Palin had felt intimidated by him during a meeting, he made sure to sit when talking with her, and to use a soothing voice. Nevertheless, Palin said, "When I met with you in private, instead of engaging in interactive conversation with me, you gave me short, uncommunicative answers and then you would sit there and stare at me in silence with a very stern look, like you were trying to intimidate me." On January 30, Stambaugh was on the phone with the town's librarian — who said she had just been fired — when an assistant of Palin's walked up and gave Stambaugh an envelope. Inside was a letter from Palin, saying Stambaugh, too, was fired. His firing was to be effective February 13.

Palin said that she fired Emmons and Stambaugh because they did not fully support her efforts to govern the city. The next day, following expressions of public support for Emmons at a personal meeting, Palin rescinded the firing of Emmons, stating that her concerns had been alleviated, and adding that Emmons agreed to support Palin's plan to merge the town's library and museum operations. Palin described the letters as just a test of loyalty. Stambaugh, who along with Emmons had supported Palin's opponent in the election, filed a lawsuit alleging wrongful termination, violation of his contract, and gender discrimination. In the trial, the defense alleged political reasons; Stambaugh said that he had opposed a gun control bill, Alaska Senate Bill 177, that Palin supported. The federal judge said in the decision that the police chief serves at the discretion of the mayor, and can be terminated for nearly any reason, even a political one, and dismissed Stambaugh's lawsuitordering Stambaugh to pay Palin's legal fees.

Post-mayoral years

In 2002, Palin ran for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, coming in second to Loren Leman in a five-way Republican primary.The Republican ticket of U.S. Senator Frank Murkowski and Leman won the November 2002 election. When Murkowski resigned from his long-held U.S. Senate seat in December 2002 to become governor, he considered appointing Palin to replace him in the Senate, but chose his daughter, State Representative Lisa Murkowski.

Governor Murkowski appointed Palin to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.She chaired the Commission beginning in 2003, serving as Ethics Supervisor. Palin resigned in January 2004, protesting what she called the "lack of ethics" of fellow Republican members.

After resigning, Palin filed a formal complaint against Oil and Gas Conservation Commissioner Randy Ruedrich, also the chair of the state Republican Party,accusing him of doing work for the party on public time and of working closely with a company he was supposed to be regulating. She also joined with Democratic legislator Eric Croftto file a complaint against Gregg Renkes, a former Alaskan Attorney General,accusing him of having a financial conflict of interest in negotiating a coal exporting trade agreement,while Renkes was the subject of investigation and after records suggesting a possible conflict of interest had been released to the public.Ruedrich and Renkes both resigned and Ruedrich paid a record $12,000 fine.

From 2003 to June 2005, Palin served as one of three directors of "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.," a 527 group designed to provide political training for Republican women in Alaska. In 2004, Palin told the Anchorage Daily News that she had decided not to run for the U.S. Senate that year, against the Republican incumbent, Lisa Murkowski, because her teenage son opposed it. Palin said, "How could I be the team mom if I was a U.S. Senator?"

Governor of Alaska

In 2006, running on a clean-government platform, Palin defeated incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Her running mate was State Senator Sean Parnell. She will not be a candidate for re-election as Governor in 2010.

In the November election, Palin was outspent but victorious, defeating former Democratic governor Tony Knowles by a margin of 48.3% to 40.9%. She became Alaska's first female governor, at the age of 42, the youngest governor in Alaskan history, the state's first governor to have been born after Alaska achieved U.S. statehood, and the first not to be inaugurated in Juneaumarker (she chose to have the ceremony held in Fairbanksmarker instead). She took office on December 4, 2006, and for most of her term was very popular with Alaska voters. Polls taken in 2007 showed her with 93% and 89% popularity among all voters,which led some media outlets to call her "the most popular governor in America." A poll taken in late September 2008 after Palin was named to the national Republican ticket showed her popularity in Alaska at 68%. A poll taken in May 2009 showed Palin's popularity among Alaskans was at 54% positive and 41.6% negative.

Palin declared that top priorities of her administration would be resource development, education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development. She had championed ethics reform throughout her election campaign. Her first legislative action after taking office was to push for a bipartisan ethics reform bill. She signed the resulting legislation in July 2007, calling it a "first step", and declaring that she remained determined to clean up Alaska politics.

Palin has frequently broken with the state Republican establishment. For example, she endorsed Sean Parnell's bid to unseat the state's longtime at-large U.S. Representative, Don Young, and she publicly challenged then-Senator Ted Stevens to come clean about the federal investigation into his financial dealings. Shortly before his July 2008 indictment, she held a joint news conference with Stevens, described by The Washington Post as needed "to make clear she had not abandoned him politically."

Palin promoted oil and natural gas resource development in Alaska, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker (ANWR). Proposals to drill for oil in ANWR have been the subject of a national debate.

In 2006, Palin obtained a passport and in 2007 traveled for the first time outside of North America on a trip to Kuwaitmarker. There she visited the Khabari Alawazem Crossing at the Kuwait–Iraqmarker border and met with members of the Alaska National Guard at several bases. On her return trip to the U.S., she visited injured soldiers in Germany.

Budget, spending, and federal funds

In June 2007, Palin signed a record $6.6 billion operating budget into law.At the same time, she used her veto power to make the second-largest cuts of the construction budget in state history. The $237 million in cuts represented over 300 local projects, and reduced the construction budget to $1.6 billion.In 2008, Palin vetoed $286 million, cutting or reducing funding for 350 projects from the FY09 capital budget.

Palin followed through on a campaign promise to sell the Westwind II jet, a purchase made by the Murkowski administration for $2.7 million in 2005 against the wishes of the legislature. In August 2007, the jet was listed on eBay, but the sale fell through, and the plane was later sold for $2.1 million through a private brokerage firm.

Gubernatorial expenditures

Palin lived in Juneau during the legislative session and lived in Wasilla and worked out of offices in Anchorage the rest of the year. Since the office in Anchorage is far from Juneau, while she worked there, state officials said she was permitted to claim a $58 per diem travel allowance, which she took (a total of $16,951), and to reimbursement for hotels, which she did not, choosing instead to drive about 50 miles to her home in Wasilla. She also chose not to use the former governor's private chef. Republicans and Democrats have criticized Palin for taking the per diem and $43,490 in travel expenses for the times her family accompanied her on state business. In response, the governor's staffers said that these practices were in line with state policy, that Palin's gubernatorial expenses are 80% below those of her predecessor, Frank Murkowski, and that "many of the hundreds of invitations Palin receives include requests for her to bring her family, placing the definition of 'state business' with the party extending the invitation." In February 2009, the State of Alaska, reversing a policy that had treated the payments as legitimate business expenses under the Internal Revenue Code, decided that per diems paid to state employees for stays in their own homes will be treated as taxable income and will be included in employees' gross income on their W-2 forms. Palin herself had ordered the review of the tax policy.

In December 2008, an Alaska state commission recommended increasing the Governor's annual salary from $125,000 to $150,000. Palin stated that she would not accept the pay raise. In response, the commission dropped the recommendation.

Federal funding

In her State of the State Address on January 17, 2008, Palin declared that the people of Alaska "can and must continue to develop our economy, because we cannot and must not rely so heavily on federal government [funding]." Alaska's federal congressional representatives cut back on pork-barrel project requests during Palin's time as governor; despite this, in 2008 Alaska was still the largest per-capita recipient of federal earmarks, requesting nearly $750 million in special federal spending over a period of two years.

While there is no sales tax or income tax in Alaska, state revenues doubled to $10 billion in 2008. For the 2009 budget, Palin gave a list of 31 proposed federal earmarks or requests for funding, totaling $197 million, to Alaska Senator Ted Stevens. Palin’s decreasing support for federal funding has been a leading source of friction between herself and the state's congressional delegation; Palin has requested less in federal funding each year than her predecessor Frank Murkowski requested in his last year.

Bridge to Nowhere

In 2005, before Palin was elected governor, Congress passed a $442-million earmark for constructing two Alaska bridges as part of an omnibus spending bill. The Gravina Island Bridge received nationwide attention as a symbol of pork-barrel spending, following news reports that the bridge would cost $233 million in Federal funds. Because Gravina Island, the site of the Ketchikan airport, has a population of 50, the bridge became known nationally as the "Bridge to Nowhere". Following an outcry by the public and some members of the US Senate, Congress eliminated the bridge earmark from the spending bill but gave the allotted funds to Alaska as part of its general transportation fund.

In 2006, Palin ran for governor with a "build-the-bridge" plank in her platform, saying she would "not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project [...] into something that's so negative." Palin criticized the use of the word "nowhere" as insulting to local residents NB: "Editor's note: This story was originally published October 22, 2006. This is an except from a longer article that presented the views of the various candidates for governor." and urged speedy work on building the infrastructure "while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist."

As governor, Palin canceled the Gravina Island Bridge in September 2007, saying that Congress had "little interest in spending any more money" due to what she called "inaccurate portrayals of the projects."Alaska chose not to return the $442 million in federal transportation funds.

In 2008, as a vice-presidential candidate, Palin characterized her position as having told Congress "thanks, but no thanks, on that bridge to nowhere." This angered some Alaskans in Ketchikan, who said that the claim was false and a betrayal of Palin's previous support for their community. Some critics complained that this statement was misleading, since she had expressed support for the spending project and kept the Federal money after the project was canceled. Palin received criticism for allowing construction of a 3-mile access road, built with $25 million in Federal transportation funds set aside as part of the original bridge project, to continue. A spokesman for Alaska's Department of Transportation made a statement that it was within Palin's power to cancel the road project, but also noted that the state was still considering cheaper designs to complete the bridge project, and that in any case the road would open up the surrounding lands for development.

Gas pipeline

In August 2008, Palin signed a bill authorizing the State of Alaska to award TransCanada Pipelines—the sole bidder to meet the state's requirements—a license to build and operate a pipeline to transport natural gas from the North Slope to the Continental United States through Canadamarker. The governor also pledged $500 million in seed money to support the project. It is estimated that the project will cost $26 billion. Newsweek described the project as "the principal achievement of Sarah Palin's term as Alaska's governor."The pipeline faces legal challenges from Canadian First Nations.

Predator control

In 2007, Palin supported a 2003 Alaska Department of Fish and Game policy allowing the hunting of wolves from the air as part of a predator control program intended to increase moose and caribou populations for subsistence-food gatherers and other hunters.In March 2007, Palin's office announced that a bounty of $150 per wolf would be paid to the 180 volunteer pilots and gunners, to offset fuel costs, in five areas of Alaska. Six-hundred-and-seven wolves had been killed in the prior four years. State biologists wanted 382 to 664 wolves killed by the end of the predator-control season in April 2007. Wildlife activists sued the state, and a state judge declared the bounty illegal on the basis that a bounty would have to be offered by the Board of Game and not by the Department of Fish and Game.

Public Safety Commissioner dismissal

Palin dismissed Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan on July 11, 2008, citing performance-related issues, such as not being "a team player on budgeting issues" and "egregious rogue behavior." Palin attorney Van Flein said that the "last straw" was Monegan's planned trip to Washington, D.C., to seek funding for a new, multimillion-dollar sexual assault initiative the governor hadn't yet approved.Monegan said that he had resisted persistent pressure from the Governor, her husband, and her staff, including State Attorney General Talis Colberg, to fire Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, state trooper Mike Wooten; Wooten was involved in a child custody battle with Palin’s sister after a bitter divorce that included an alleged death threat against Palin's father. At one point Sarah and Todd Palin hired a private investigator to get Wooten disciplined. Monegan stated that he learned an internal investigation had found all but two of the allegations to be unsubstantiated, and Wooten had been disciplined for the others—an illegal moose killing and the tasering of an 11-year-old (the child asked to be Tasered). He told the Palins that there was nothing he could do because the matter was closed. When contacted by the press for comment, Monegan first acknowledged pressure to fire Wooten but said that he could not be certain that his own firing was connected to that issue; he later asserted that the dispute over Wooten was a major reason for his firing. Palin stated on July 17 that Monegan was not pressured to fire Wooten, nor dismissed for not doing so.

Monegan said the subject of Wooten came up when he invited Palin to a birthday party for his cousin, state senator Lyman Hoffman, in February 2007 during the legislative session in Juneau. "As we were walking down the stairs in the capitol building she wanted to talk to me about her former brother-in-law," Monegan said. "I said, 'Ma'am, I need to keep you at arm's length with this. I can't deal about him with you." "She said, 'OK, that's a good idea.' "

Governor Palin said there was "absolutely no pressure ever put on Commissioner Monegan to hire or fire anybody, at any time. I did not abuse my office powers. And I don't know how to be more blunt and candid and honest, but to tell you that truth. To tell you that no pressure was ever put on anybody to fire anybody." "Never putting any pressure on him," added Todd Palin. But on August 13 she acknowledged that a half dozen members of her administration had made more than two dozen calls on the matter to various state officials. "I do now have to tell Alaskans that such pressure could have been perceived to exist, although I have only now become aware of it," she said. Palin said, "Many of these inquiries were completely appropriate. However, the serial nature of the contacts could be perceived as some kind of pressure, presumably at my direction."

Chuck Kopp, who Palin had appointed to replace Monegan as public safety commissioner, received a $10,000 state severance package after he resigned following just two weeks on the job. Kopp, the former Kenai chief of police, resigned July 25 following disclosure of a 2005 sexual harassment complaint and letter of reprimand against him. Monegan said that he didn't get any severance package from the state.

Legislative investigation

On August 1, 2008 the Alaska Legislature hired an investigator, Stephen Branchflower, to review the Monegan dismissal. Legislators stated that Palin had the legal authority to fire Monegan, but they wanted to know whether her action had been motivated by anger at Monegan for not firing Wooten. The atmosphere was bipartisan and Palin pledged to cooperate. Wooten remained employed as a state trooper. She placed an aide on paid leave due to one tape-recorded phone conversation that she deemed improper, in which the aide appeared to be acting on her behalf and complained to a trooper that Wooten had not been fired.

Several weeks after the start of what the media referred to as "troopergate", Palin was chosen as John McCain's running mate. On September 1, Palin asked the legislature to drop its investigation, saying that the state Personnel Board had jurisdiction over ethics issues.The Personnel Board's three members were first appointed by Palin’s predecessor, and Palin reappointed one member in 2008. On September 19, the Governor's husband and several state employees refused to honor subpoenas, the validity of which were disputed by Talis Colberg, Palin's appointee as Alaska's Attorney General.On October 2, a court rejected Colberg's challenge to the subpoenas,and seven of the witnesses, not including Sarah and Todd Palin, eventually testified.

Branchflower Report

On October 10, 2008, the Alaska Legislative Council unanimously voted to release, without endorsing, the Branchflower Report, in which investigator Stephen Branchflower found that firing Monegan "was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority," but that Palin abused her power as governor and violated the state's Executive Branch Ethics Act when her office pressured Monegan to fire Wooten . The report stated that "Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates to advance a personal agenda, to wit: to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired." The report also said that Palin "permitted Todd Palin to use the Governor's office [...] to continue to contact subordinate state employees in an effort to find some way to get Trooper Wooten fired."

On October 11, Palin's attorneys responded, condemning the Branchflower Report as "misleading and wrong on the law". One of Palin's attorneys, Thomas Van Flein, said that it was an attempt to "smear the governor by innuendo." Later that day, Governor Palin did a conference call interview with various Alaskan reporters, where she stated, "Well, I’m very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing… Any hint of any kind of unethical activity there. Very pleased to be cleared of any of that."

State Personnel Board investigation

The State Personnel Board (SPB) reviewed the matter at Palin's request. On September 15, the Anchorage law firm of Clapp, Peterson, Van Flein, Tiemessen & Thorsness filed arguments of "no probable cause" with the SPB on behalf of Palin.The SPB hired independent counsel Timothy Petumenos as an investigator. On October 24, Palin gave three hours of depositions with the Board in St. Louis, Missourimarker. On November 3, Petumenos found that there was no probable cause to believe Palin or any other state official had violated state ethical standards.

Approval ratings

As governor of Alaska, Palin's approval rating ranged from a high of 93% in June 2007 to 54% in May 2009.

Date Approval Disapproval
May 30, 2007 89% ?
June 21, 2007 93% ?
November 4, 2007 83% 11%
April 10, 2008 73% 7%
May 17, 2008 69% 9%
August 29, 2008 64% 14%
October 7, 2008 63% 37%
March 24-25, 2009 59.8% 34.9%
May 5, 2009 54% 41.6%
June 14-18, 2009 56% 35%


On July 3, 2009, Palin announced at a press conference that she would not run for reelection in the 2010 Alaska gubernatorial election and would resign before the end of July. Palin gave a speech offering reasons for her departure. She argued that both she and the state have been expending an "insane" amount of time and money to address "frivolous" ethics complaints filed against her. She also said that her decision not to seek reelection would make her a lame duck governor. Palin did not take questions at the press conference. A Palin aide was quoted as saying Palin was "no longer able to do the job she had been elected to do. Essentially, the taxpayers were paying for Sarah to go to work every day and defend herself."

2008 vice-presidential campaign

On August 24, 2008, during a general strategy meeting at the Phoenix Ritz-Carlton with Steve Schmidt and a few other senior advisers to the McCain Campaign, potential vice presidential picks were discussed. Consensus began to settle around Palin; the following day, the strategists advised McCain of their conclusions and he personally called Palin who was at the Alaska State Fair.

On August 27, she visited McCain's vacation home near Sedona, Arizonamarker, where she was offered the position of vice-presidential candidate. Palin was the only prospective running mate who had a face-to-face interview with McCain to discuss joining the ticket that week. Nonetheless, Palin's selection was a surprise to many as speculation had centered on other candidates, such as Minnesotamarker Governor Tim Pawlenty, Louisianamarker Governor Bobby Jindal, former Massachusettsmarker Governor Mitt Romney, United States Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticutmarker, and former Pennsylvaniamarker Governor Tom Ridge.

On August 29, in Dayton, Ohiomarker, Republican presidential candidate John McCain announced that he had chosen Palin as his running mate. According to Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for John McCain, he first met Palin at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington in February 2008 and came away "extraordinarily impressed."

Palin is the first Alaskan and the second woman to run on a major U.S. party ticket. The first woman was Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1984, who ran with former vice-president Walter Mondale.On September 3, 2008, Palin delivered a 40-minute acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention that was well-received and watched by more than 40 million viewers.

Several conservative commentators met Palin in the summer of 2007.Some of them, such as Bill Kristol, urged McCain to pick Palin, arguing that her presence on the ticket would provide a boost in enthusiasm among the religious right wing of the Republican party, while her status as an unknown on the national scene would also be a positive factor for McCain's campaign.

Since Palin was largely unknown outside Alaska before her selection by McCain, her personal life, positions, and political record drew intense media attention and scrutiny. On September 1, 2008, Palin announced that her daughter Bristol was pregnant and that she would marry the father, a young man named Levi. During this period, some Republicans felt that Palin was being subjected to unreasonable media coverage, a sentiment Palin noted in her acceptance speech. A poll taken immediately after the Republican convention found that slightly more than half of Americans believed that the media was "trying to hurt" Palin with negative coverage.

During the campaign, controversy erupted over alleged differences between Palin's positions as a gubernatorial candidate and her position as a vice-presidential candidate. After McCain announced Palin as his running mate, Newsweek and Time put Palin on their magazine covers, as some of the media alleged that McCain's campaign was restricting press access to Palin by allowing only three one-on-one interviews and no press conferences with her. Palin's first major interview, with Charles Gibson of ABC News, met with mixed reviews. Her interview five days later with Fox News's Sean Hannity focused on many of the same questions from Gibson's interview. Palin's performance in her third interview, with Katie Couric of CBS News, was widely criticized; her poll numbers declined, Republicans expressed concern that she was becoming a political liability, and some conservative commentators called for Palin to resign from the Presidential ticket. Other conservatives remained ardent in their support for Palin, accusing the columnists of elitism. Following this interview, some Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Bill Kristol, questioned the McCain campaign's strategy of sheltering Palin from unscripted encounters with the press.

Palin was reported to have prepared intensively for the October 2 vice-presidential debate with Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden at Washington University in St. Louismarker. Some Republicans suggested that Palin's performance in the interviews would improve public perceptions of her debate performance by lowering expectations. Polling from CNN, Fox and CBS found that while Palin exceeded most voters' expectations, they felt that Biden had won the debate.

Upon returning to the campaign trail after her debate preparation, Palin stepped up her attacks on the Democratic candidate for President, Senator Barack Obama. At a fundraising event, Palin explained her new aggressiveness, saying, "There does come a time when you have to take the gloves off and that time is right now."

Palin appeared on the television show Saturday Night Live on October 18. Prior to her appearance on the show, she had been parodied several times by Tina Fey, who was noted for her physical resemblance to the candidate. In the weeks leading up to the election, Palin had also been the subject of numerous other parodies.

The election took place on November 4, and Obama was projected as the winner at 11:00 PM Eastern Standard Time. In his concession speech McCain thanked Palin, calling her "one of the best campaigners I've ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength." While aides were preparing the teleprompter for McCain's speech, they found a concession speech written for Palin by Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully. Two members of McCain's staff, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, told Palin that there was no tradition of Election Night speeches by running mates, and that she would not be speaking. Palin appealed to McCain, who agreed with his staff.

After the 2008 election

Palin was selected as one of America’s "Top 10 Most Fascinating People" of 2008 for a Barbara Walters ABC special on December 4, 2008. She was the first guest on commentator Glenn Beck's Fox News television show on January 19, 2009, commenting on President Barack Obama that he was her president and that she would assist in any way to bring progress to the nation without abandoning her conservative views.

On January 27, 2009, Palin formed the political action committee, SarahPAC. The organization which describes itself as an advocate of “energy independence,” supports candidates for federal and state office. Following her resignation as Governor, Palin announced her intention to campaign "on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation." It was reported that the SarahPAC had raised nearly $1,000,000 by July 13, 2009, and that only 28 of the 709 donations over $200 had come from Alaska residents. A legal defense fund has also been set up to help Gov. Palin challenge ethics complaints, and it had collected approximately $250,000 as of mid July 2009.

Going Rogue

The book cover to Going Rogue: An American Life
In November 2009, Palin released Going Rogue: An American Life, which became a bestseller. Palin made a number of media appearances to promote the book, including a widely publicized interview on November 16, 2009 with Oprah Winfrey.

2012 speculation

Palin's high profile in the 2008 presidential campaign fueled speculation that she may run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, and as of November 2008, there is an active "Draft Palin" movement. In December 2008, she campaigned for Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia in his bid to be re-elected to the Senate in the run-off election. Chambliss went on to win by a larger than expected margin, and he credited Palin with drumming up support from the conservative base of the Republican Party. This fueled mounting speculation that Palin may run for president herself in 2012.

On the question of seeking the Presidency, Palin told CNN that, "right now I cannot even imagine running for national office in 2012." She has, however, left the door open for a future presidential run, whether it be in 2012 or at a later date.

A few polls were taken after the 2008 election on the subject of Palin's future as a presidential candidate. At the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2009, a straw poll was held to determine who conservatives would be most likely to support for president in 2012. Palin came in third, with 13%, tying Texas Congressman Ron Paul. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney came in first with 20%, followed by Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal with 14%. A June 2009 CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll showed Palin as the 2012 presidential co-favorite of the Republican electorate along with Romney and Mike Huckabee. The same month, a Pew Research Center poll found that equal amounts of the general public viewed Palin favorably versus unfavorably, with few having no opinion. This was roughly consistent with her ratings during the vice-presidential campaign. Among Republicans, however, her favorability ratings were very high, and greater than those for several other Republican political figures.

After Palin's July 3 announcement that she would be resigning as Governor, more polls were taken. Rasmussen Reports's Poll (published on July 7) found that her approval by Republican voters had remained stable. A USA Today/Gallup Poll (published on July 8) found that her approval by Republican voters had increased slightly. CBS's poll (published July 13) indicated that 22% of all Americans and 33% of Republicans believe Palin has the ability to be an effective candidate. In contrast, 65% of all Americans and 51% of Republicans do not believe that Palin has the ability to be an effective candidate. In a Gallup Poll (published on July 16) on potential Republican candidates for 2012, Palin came in second with 21%, while former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney came in first with 26%. Mike Huckabee came in third with 19% and Newt Gingrich came in fourth with 14%. Opinion of Palin among all Americans was 43% favorable and 45% unfavorable. Public Policy Polling, a Democratic research firm, indicated in results published on July 20 that in the "Base" category, 47% had a favorable view of Palin and 45% unfavorable. In an ABC News - Washington Post poll (published on July 23), 40% of Americans had a "favorable opinion of Palin" while 53% "view her unfavorably."

Family and religion

Palin describes herself as a hockey mom. The Palins have five children: sons Track (b. 1989) and Trig Paxson Van (b. 2008), and daughters Bristol Sheeran Marie (b. 1990), Willow (b. 1995), and Piper (b. 2001). Track enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 11, 2007, and was subsequently assigned to an infantry brigade. He and his unit deployed to Iraq in September 2008 for 12 months. Palin's youngest child, Trig, was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome. Palin has one grandchild, a boy named Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, who was born to her eldest daughter Bristol, in 2008. Her husband Todd works for the British oil company BP as an oil-field production operator and owns a commercial fishing business.

Palin was born into a Roman Catholic family. Later, her family joined the Wasilla Assembly of Godmarker, a Pentecostal church, which she attended until 2002. Palin then switched to the Wasilla Bible Church because, she said, she preferred the children's ministries offered there. When in Juneau, she attends the Juneau Christian Center. Palin described herself in an interview as a "Bible-believing Christian." After the Republican National Convention, a spokesperson for the McCain campaign told CNN that Palin "doesn't consider herself Pentecostal" and has "deep religious convictions."

In keeping with her religious background, Palin talked in a PBS interview of how her favorite writer is C. S. Lewis. In the interview, Palin stated, "I love C. S. Lewis – very, very deep. Very intriguing. I love anything by C. S. Lewis."

Political positions

Palin has been a registered Republican since 1982, and has described the Republican Party platform as "the right agenda for America".

  • Palin is a social conservative. Palin opposes same-sex marriage. Palin opposes embryonic stem cell research, and abortion, calling herself "as pro-life as any candidate can be." She has referred to abortion as an "atrocity," but opposes sanctions against women who obtain an abortion. She supports laws requiring parental consent for minors seeking an abortion. Palin supports allowing the discussion of creationism in public schools, but is not in favor of teaching it as part of the curriculum.
  • Palin supports sex education in public schools that encourages abstinence but also discusses birth control.
  • A lifetime member of the National Rifle Associationmarker (NRA), Palin believes the right to bear arms includes handgun possession, is against a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons. and supports gun safety education for youth. She supports capital punishment for adults who murder children and other innocent people.
  • Palin has promoted oil and natural gas resource exploration in Alaska, including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker.
  • Palin has expressed skepticism about the causes of global warming, but agrees that "man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue" and that action should be taken. She is opposed to cap-and-trade proposals such as the American Clean Energy and Security Act‎.
  • On foreign policy, Palin supported the Bush Administration's policies in Iraqmarker, but is concerned that "dependence on foreign energy" may be obstructing efforts to "have an exit plan in place". Palin supports preemptive military action in the face of an imminent threat, and supports U.S. military operations in Pakistanmarker. Palin supports NATOmarker membership for Ukrainemarker and Georgiamarker, and affirms that if Russia invaded a NATO member, the United States should meet its treaty obligations.
  • Via much reported Facebook notes, Palin asserted that Obama’s plans for health care reform include a "downright evil", "Orwellian", "disturbing", "shocking" "death panel" which would threaten handicapped people such as her son Trig. Although Palin's 'death panel' charge was widely discredited as inaccurate, The Atlantic recognized its political effectiveness. Palin repeated her claims of euthanasia when promoting her book Going Rogue and criticizing a November 2009 House vote on health care reform legislation. Palin said that a mandate requiring people to buy health insurance is "unconstitutional", and warned that "the bill also forces insurance companies to cover everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions." She said, "health care would have to be rationed if it were promised to everyone." In a Barbara Walters interview Palin said that "No, death panel isn't there" but added that Obama was "incorrect" and "disingenuous" when he accused her of lying about death panels, and that the tea party movement was "beautiful".

Public image

Prior to the Republican National Convention, a Gallup poll found that most voters were unfamiliar with Sarah Palin. During her campaign to become vice president, 39% said Palin was ready to serve as president if needed, 33% said Palin was not, and 29% had no opinion. This was "the lowest vote of confidence in a running mate since the elder George Bush chose then-Indiana senator Dan Quayle to join his ticket in 1988." Following the Convention, her image came under close media scrutiny, particularly with regard to her religious perspective on public life, her socially conservative views, and her perceived lack of experience. Palin's experience in foreign and domestic politics came under criticism among conservatives as well as liberals following her nomination. At the same time, Palin became more popular than John McCain among Republicans.

During the campaign, Palin evoked a more strongly divided response than Joe Biden among voters and was viewed both more favorably and unfavorably when compared to her opponent. A plurality of the television audience rated Biden's performance higher at the 2008 vice-presidential debate. Media outlets repeated Palin's statement that she "stood up to Big Oil" when she resigned after 11 months as the head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, due to abuses she witnessed involving other Republican commissioners and their ties to energy companies and energy lobbyists, and again when she raised taxes on oil companies as governor. In turn, others have said that Palin is a "friend of Big Oil" due to her advocacy of oil exploration and development including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refugemarker and the de-listing of the polar bear as an endangered species.The National Organization for Women, which endorsed Obama, made clear that it would not support Palin, and made its support for her opponent publicly known. The National Rifle Associationmarker said nothing specific about Palin's position on gun legislation, but concluded that she would be "one of the most pro-gun vice-presidents in American history." Following the presidential election, 69% of Republicans felt Palin had helped John McCain's bid, while 20% felt Palin hurt. In the same poll, 71% of Republicans stated Palin had been the right choice. An article by Robert Jones & Daniel Cox, "Beyond the Spin", in Religion Dispatches, uses a "post-election" survey to show that McCain's choice of Palin split likely Republican voters. She scored highly with White evangelicals but lost support for McCain among White Roman Catholics.


  1. “Governor Palin Announces No Second Term, No Lame Duck Session Either,” Press Release, Office of the Governor, Via Anchorage Daily News (2009-07-03).
  2. “Gov. Palin's resignation announcement,” Audiovideo from MSNBC via Anchorage Daily News.
  3. ; see also,28804,1837523_1837531_1837532,00.html
  4. Alumni Awards. North Idaho College Alumni Association.
  5. {{cite news | url ={BA5FEDF2-42BA-496B-A3ED-511268BD02A1} | title = McCain surprises with Palin pick | accessdate = 2008-08-29 | date = August 29, 2008 | work = MarketWatch | publisher = Wall Street Journal}}
  6. Davey, op. cit.,
  7. Boston globe cite
  8. City of Wasilla Document Central Links to official announcements and budget items
  9. “Numbers right, context missing”, from St. Petersburg Times and Congressional Quarterly (2008-08-31).
  10. ADN precis of the decision
  11. See also:
  12. The Anchorage Daily News, January 20, 2008: Palin does not use the governor's private chef, whom Palin transferred to the Lounge of the State Legislature.
  13. See also:
  14. Bolstad, Erika. "Palin's Take On Earmarks Evolving" , Anchorage Daily News, (2008-09-08)
  15. Kizzia, Tom. "Palin touts stance on 'Bridge to Nowhere,' doesn't note flip-flop", Anchorage Daily News (2008-08-31)
  16. Dan Fagan, September 16, 2008, No one is above the truth, even Palin, Anchorage Daily News, No one is above the truth, even Palin
  17. Wesley Loy, September 16, 2008, Palin accuses Monegan of insubordination, Anchorage Daily News, Palin accuses Monegan of insubordination
  18. (August 30, 2008), Monegan to Palin: 'Ma'am, I Need to Keep You at Arm's Length'
  19. Matthew Simon (November 7, 2008) Monegan says Palin administration and first gentleman used governor's office to pressure firing first family's former brother-in-law
  20. See page 8 of Report for findings.
  21. The report further found that Colberg had failed to cooperate fully with the investigation.
  22. Dobbs, Michael. “The Fact Checker: Four Pinocchios for Palin”, Washington Post (2008-10-13).
  23. “Legal Bills Swayed Palin, Official Says,” New York Times (2009-07-05).
  24. Carlton, Jim. “Palin Confidante Cites Distraction of Investigations,” Wall Street Journal (2009-07-06) *
  25. “Palin's Reasons for Stepping Down,” Washington Post (2009-07-03).
  26. Besides the perceived motive of protecting the Vice Presidential nominee from media questions, the McCain campaign sought to have her constantly at McCain's side because Palin drew crowds.
  27. Bolstad, Erika, and Cockerham, Sean. collections reach nearly a million" Anchorage Daily News,, July 14, 2009
  28. Palin's Legal Fund Faces Ethics Challenge
  29. " What next for Sarah Palin?" by Ali Reed; BBC News, November 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  30. [1]
  31. " Palin Returns To Alaska Politics, But What's Ahead?" by Martin Kaste; All Things Considered, NPR, November 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
  32. Accurint (Lexis/Nexis) public records search for Track Palin,
  33. [2] People Magazine | date = 2008-12-29 | accessdate = 2009-10-05
  34. Sarah Palin on her favourite authors. [3]
  35. "Social Conservative: Americans should understand what Palin is offering" Anchorage Daily News,, September 12, 2008.
  36. On the Issues "Sarah Palin on Civil Rights",, Source, 2008 Debate against Joe Biden.
  37. Sarah Palin, September 8, 2009, Facebook, Written Testimony Submitted to the New York State Senate Aging Committee
  38. August 07, 2009 9:30 PM, from ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper, Palin Paints Picture of 'Obama Death Panel' Giving Thumbs Down to Trig Palin posted the following comments on the web - "And who will suffer the most when they ration care?" Palin asks. "The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."
  39. James Fallows, The Atlantic, August 15, 2009, Why the "death panel" claim is working
  40. Jonathan Martin, November 7, 2009, Palin rallies thousands of abortion opponents
  41. Andy Barr, November 8, 2009, Palin returns to 'death panels'
  42. Andy Barr, November 12, 2009, Politico, Palin: Health bill should be DOA
  43. Alan B. Goldberg and Katie N. Thomson, November 16, 2009, ABC News, Sarah Palin: I Want to Play a Major Role in National Politics, 'If People Will Have Me'
  44. John F. Harris and Beth Frerking. "Clinton aides: Palin treatment sexist"; Politico, Sept 11, 2008
  45. "Palin More Popular With GOP Voters Than McCain". Rasmussen Reports. November 4, 2008.
  46. "Palin sought more taxes and more development from oil companies"; Politifact, Saint Petersburg Times, Aug. 29, 2008

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