Sarah Palin

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Governor Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Heath Palin (pronounced pay'-lynn) (born February 11, 1964) is the conservative first-term Republican Governor of Alaska. She is the youngest person to hold this office as well as the first woman to do so in the state's history. Palin was Senator John McCain's Vice Presidential running mate in the 2008 Presidential Election.[1]

She brought a populist image and a record of cutting wasteful spending and reforming government to McCain's ticket. In the summer of 2007, she was the most popular governor in America, after cutting 13% of Alaska's budget.[2] She is strongly pro-life. She favors more competition in health care, and pushed for abolishing the certificate of need regulations that interfere with opening new medical clinics.[3]

Married for 20 years, Sarah Palin's husband is a member of the United Steelworkers Union and her eldest son (of five children) is in the United States Army, scheduled to go to Iraq. In an appearance on August 30, 2008 in Washington, Pennsylvania, she was greeted by a surprisingly large crowd as she promoted the new McCain-Palin ticket.

She earned her Journalism degree from the University of Idaho[4] and worked in the media and the utility industry before beginning her public service 14 years ago.

Personal Background

In this April 23, 2008 file photo, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, left, and her husband, Todd Palin, hold their baby boy Trig in Anchorage, Alaska.
Photo courtesy of

Palin arrived in Alaska with her family in 1964, when her parents came to teach school in Skagway. Palin attended Wasilla High School where her extracurricular activities included captaining the basketball team which went on to win the state championship [5] after graduating in 1982. She went on to college, after attending several institutions she received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987. Over the course of her 44 years in Alaska she has lived in Skagway, Eagle River and Wasilla. To earn money for college, Palin entered beauty pageants.

She is married to Todd Palin, part Yupik Eskimo, who is a lifelong Alaskan, works at a non-management union job in the oil industry, and also as a commercial salmon fisherman. He is a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, the world's longest snowmobile race.

Sarah Palin is a union member, a moose hunter and holds a membership in the NRA.[6] Todd and Sarah have five children together: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig.

Palin has been widely praised among conservatives for acting on her pro-life beliefs in the case of her youngest son, Trig, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome in the fourth month of her pregnancy. After researching the condition, she and her husband agreed to continue to pregnancy:

"[My husband Todd said,] we shouldn't be asking 'Why us?' We should be saying 'Well, why not us?' We've both been very vocal about being pro life. We understand that every innocent life has wonderful potential. I'm looking at him right now, and I see perfection. Yeah, he has an extra chromosome. I keep thinking, in our world, what is normal and what is perfect?" [7] [8]

Trig was born on April 18, 2008, four months before his mother was announced as the vice-presidential candidate. Palin wrote:

"This new person in your life can help everyone put things in perspective and bind us together, and get everyone focused on what really matters ... Those who love him will think less about self and focus less on what the world tells [us] is 'normal' or 'perfect.'"[9]
"It's a sign of the times to be able to do this," she said. "I can think of so many male candidates who watched a families grow while they were in office. There is no reason to believe a woman can't do it with a growing family. My baby will not be at all or in any sense neglected."[10]

Palin's older son, Track, serves in the U.S. Army, and was deployed to Iraq in September 2008. Palin says, "I'm proud of him but I worry."[9]

In September of 2008, Palin announced that her daughter Bristol was five months pregnant. After having been given the choice, Bristol bravely chose to keep the child. Palin stated "We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents."[11].

Palin family members at the announcement of Palin's vice presidential selection, August 29, 2008. From left: Todd, Piper, Willow, Bristol, and Trig.

Political Career

Palin was elected to two terms on the Wasilla City Council, and then two terms as the Mayor / Manager of Alaska's fastest growing community (Population: 5400 in 2000)[12]. During her time as mayor, Palin hired a Washington lobbying firm to help secure $8 million in congressionally directed spending projects, otherwise known as earmarks.[13] Ms. Palin's leadership qualities were recognized when she was elected as President of the Alaska Conference of Mayors. In 2002, she ran for Lieutenant Governor, but came in second in a four-way race. Later that year, when Frank Murkowski resigned his Senate seat to become governor, she interviewed for the opening. Instead, Murkowski appointed his daughter to the seat. From there, she went on to run for governor and won, becoming the first female governor of Alaska and its youngest.

In 2003, then-Governor Mukowski appointed Palin to serve as Panel Ethics Commissioner of Alaska's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates Alaska's non-renewable resources: oil and gas. She resigned in 2004 as a protest over the "lack of ethics" of fellow panelists who had ignored her complaints of legal violations and conflicts of interest.

To help cultivate influence and political clout in the state, Palin served from 2003 - June, 2005 as one of three directors of the "Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.", a 527 group that raised funds from corporate donors.[14] The stated purpose of the group is, "To increase the number of Republican women in elected offices and in appointed governmental and political positions, including advisory and regulatory commissions through training and education."[15]

She ran for Governor in 2006 on a clean government platform, and accomplished a political rarity in defeating the incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski in his own Republican primary. Palin went on to defeat former Governor Tony Knowles in the general election.

She has also served on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. She was named one of Alaska's "Top 40 Under 40", Alaska's Public Works "Person of the Year", and was recently inducted into the Sigma Beta Delta Honor Society at Alaska Pacific University.

Palin has served on numerous boards and commissions throughout the State, and stays active as a marathon runner, sports team mom, hockey manager and school volunteer. A lifetime member of the NRA, she enjoys hunting, fishing, and Alaska history. [16]

In 2007, Palin's 18-year old son, Track, enlisted in the Army. [17]

I am pro-life and I believe that marriage should only be between and man and a woman. I am opposed to any expansion of gambling in Alaska. [18]

Record as Governor

Energy and Oil

A strong supporter of harnessing oil and natural gas resources, Palin presented the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) in March 2007, which would be the new legal vehicle for building a natural gas pipeline from the state's North Slope.[19] It received bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor Palin in June. In August of 2008 she signed legislation giving state authority to award TransCanada Corp a license to build and operate a multibillion-dollar pipeline to ship natural gas from the North Slope.[20] As Governor, Palin created a new subcabinet that will develop policies to reduce greenhouse gases and help the state adapt to climate change. She supports oil production in ANWR, connecting it with national security.[21]

In 2007, over the objections of oil companies, Palin worked with the Alaska state legislature to approve a major increase in taxes on the oil industry. [22] The state then gave Alaskans a $1200 check to pay for increased gas prices, using the increased revenues from the tax.[23]

Palin also announced on May 21, 2008 that the state would challenge a recent listing of polar bears as a threatened species as she and other Alaska elected officials feared such a listing would cripple oil and gas development in prime polar bear habitat off the state's northern and northwestern coasts. Palin's belief is that there is not enough evidence to support a listing, asserting that polar bears are well-managed and their population has dramatically increased over 30 years as a result of conservation.

State Economy

Gov. Sarah Palin delivering her 2008 State of the State address
At first, Palin supported the Gravina Island Bridge Project, otherwise known as the "Bridge to Nowhere". In September 2006, during a stop in Ketchikan as part of her gubernatorial campaign, Palin stated, "OK, you've got Valley trash standing here in the middle of nowhere," Palin said, according to an account in the Ketchikan Daily News. "I think we're going to make a good team as we progress that bridge project."[24] The $398 million bridge would have connected Ketchikan, on one island in southeastern Alaska, to its airport on another nearby island. The Anchorage Daily News also quoted her in an October, 2006 article as saying yes, she would continue state funding for the bridge because she wanted swift action on infrastructure projects. "The window is now while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist," she said.[25] Palin announced her opposition to the project in a 2007 press release.

She has stated her opposition arose because of the excessive amount of pork-barrel spending in the project, and that she would not fund the $329 million that was short for the budget.[26] This reversal cost her the support of prominent Alaskan Republicans like Former state House Speaker Gail Phillips, who said, "You don't tell a group of Alaskans you support something and then go to someplace else and say you oppose it". Palin instead said that the best option would be to upgrade the ferry system. However, the money that was retained from the earmark was not used for the ferry system, but was spent building a road on Gravina Island that links to the site of the canceled bridge.[27]

Prominent Alaskan politicians criticized Palin for not "giving back" money earmarked for the project. These critics included her Republican campaign coordinator in Ketchikan, who stated that "She said 'thanks but no thanks,' but they kept the money".[27] However, state governments do not "give back" money in the manner proposed.

Three times during Palin's time as mayor, earmark funding for projects in Wasilla were noted in John McCain's list of "objectionable" spending in 2001 and 2002. McCain's list of spending approved without normal budget scrutiny identified a $500,000 earmark for a public transportation project in the city and a $1 million earmark for an emergency communications center while $450,000 was set aside for an agricultural processing facility.[28] Palin, of course, as mayor of a small town had no ability to put these items in a Congressional bill, but her town did benefit from earmarked spending given to Alaska.

While Palin was true to her word and slashed the amount of earmarked money that Alaska requested from the federal government cutting the number of projects from 54 to 31, in 2008 Alaska still requested more earmarks per capita than any other state at $500 per citizen. [29]

Foreign Policy

Governor Sarah Palin visits Strykers at Fort Wainwright, where she is briefed on how the troops are trained and what the training grounds provide.

Palin is Commander in Chief of the Alaska Army National Guard. In 2007 she visited troops in Germany and Kuwait. According to Major General Craig E. Campbell, the adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard who commands the roughly 3,800 state militia members, the Alaskan governor is not in the site's chain of command and has no authority over its operations. He told the Associated Press on August 31st that he and Palin play no role in national defense activities, even when they involve the Alaska National Guard. He went on to state that the entire operation is under federal control.[30]

During her first major interview, with ABC's Charlie Gibson, Gibson asked Palin if she agreed with the "Bush Doctrine". Palin responded, "In what respect, Charlie?" Gibson followed, "What do you interpret it to be?" Palin answered with another question, "His world view?" Gibson still refused to answer directly but instead stated it was the doctrine Bush had proposed in September of 2002, before the Iraq war. Palin gave a response concerning Bush's attempt to eradicate Islamic extremism. Gibson then explained that the Bush doctrine refers to the right of anticipatory defense, a right to a preemptive strike against any country that we think is going to attack us. [31] What Gibson did not point out is that he himself once gave a definition of the "Bush doctrine" (a concept made up by the press that has no clear definition) that was similar to Palin's answer. Indeed it has been pointed out since that there are actually four different versions of what the Bush doctrine is and the term and meaning changes over time and place.[32]

Legislature Investigation

In August of 2008, the Alaska state legislature began an investigation of Palin and her staff for potential abuse of power in regards to a firing of Commissioner of Public Safety Walter Monegan. Legally, Palin could dismiss Monegan at any time as he serves at the pleasure of the governor. Monegan was dismissed from his position in July of 2008, which Palin's political opponents claim was due to Monegan's refusal to fire trooper Mike Wooten, Palin's former brother-in-law who had a history of complaints including tasering his 10 year old stepson.[33] Palin says she released Monegan due to differences on budgeting. In an interview Monegan said that he was never told specifically by Sarah Palin to fire the state trooper Mike Wooten. [33]

Palin has denied the charges and, as is customary, the State of Alaska has hired a lawyer to represent her office in the investigation. August 25th, the Legislative Council voted 12-0 to hire Hollis French as the investigator. [34] The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 and the House Judiciary Committee voted 7-0. The State's attorney released this statement:[35]

The governor of every state gets legal counsel and this attorney is part of a weeks-old effort to provide this governor defense in a series of outlandish politically motivated charges. This legal defense is neither new nor uncommon nor at all political. It is a matter of her job and is not recent and it is not related to her selection on the McCain-Palin ticket.

The McCain campaign came out with a picture that includes three lead state Democratic legislators investigating the Branchflower probe, known as ‘Troopergate'. The photo shows the three of them at Obama headquarters in Anchorage, Alaska in July. The McCain campaign said the whole investigation is politically tainted and compromised. Republican Rep. John Coghill of North Pole called on managing investigator, legislator French to step down from the probe, saying he no longer had confidence in his objectivity. "These statements cause me to think that the report is already written even though the investigation is only just begun and the most important witnesses have not even been interviewed,” Coghill wrote in a letter calling for French’s replacement. “The investigation appears to be lacking in fairness, neutrality and due process.” [36] Democratic State Senator Kim Elton, head of the legislative council overseeing the investigation, said the decisions made by Sen. Hollis French "have been appropriate, bipartisan ... and unchallenged" and that French has called the comments he made last week "regrettable".[37] Lawyer Thomas Van Flein called the investigation "unlawful and unconstitutional" and said the man hired to run it, former prosecutor Stephen Branchflower, has a conflict of interest because he is a friend of the fired commissioner. [38]

The investigation issued its report for the Alaska State Legislative Council on October 10, 2008, concluding that Monegan's refusal to fire the trooper was not the sole reason he was dismissed, but was likely a contributing factor. The author of the report, Stephen Branchflower, focused on two questions of the inquiry: did Palin fire Walt Monegan improperly, and was the firing solely because of his refusal to fire her ex brother-in-law. "Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda, to wit: to get Trooper Michael Wooten fired," Branchflower wrote.[39] Based on this, Branchflower claims that "I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act."[40]

In accordance with the second question the report focused on, Branchflower wrote, "I find that, although Walt Monegan's refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety," Branchflower wrote. The second finding of the report reads: "In spite of that, Governor Palin's firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads." Branchflower also dismissed the Palins' assertions that they were afraid of Wooten because of threats they said he made. "Such claims of fear were not bona fide and were offered to provide cover for the Palins' real motivation: to get Trooper Wooten fired for personal family related reasons," he wrote. [41]

A preemptive response to this report was issued by the McCain/Palin campaign on October 9th, in which the campaign's own investigation concluded that Palin "acted within her proper and lawful authority in the reassignment of Walt Monegan".[42]

In the end the "October Surprise" predicted by the head of the commission came to pass. Although the commission was asked not to release its findings until after the election to avoid political posturing, they refused to do so. Apart from tarring and feathering Palin, the report made no recommendations for any further inquiries or punishment, as it was understood that there was no case to do so. No direct reports of Sarah Palin abusing her power were ever produced or asking for the official to be fired were ever produced, but that didn't stop the report from drawing its conclusions based upon conjecture without evidence. Indeed, after the hoopla over the report subsided, the state personnel board released its finding that exonnerated her of any wrongdoing.[43]

Vice Presidential Candidate

On August 29, 2008, Palin was announced to be the Vice Presidential nominee for Republican Senator John McCain [44]. The selection was a surprise, as those in the media were expecting Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty or former Massachusetts's Governor Mitt Romney. Palin adds youth and executive experience to the ticket. She is the second female Vice Presidential candidate of a major party in U.S. history and the first one on a Republican ticket. The first was Geraldine Ferraro, who the Democratic Party put on the ticket under Walter Mondale in 1984.

Palin's speech before the Republican convention on Wednesday, September 3rd was watched by over 40 million people. She had as many people turn in to see her as watched Obama's acceptance speech on the final day of the Democratic convention. Palin has also been attacked by the press on a level not seen since Dan Quayle, although she ultimately handled it much better.

Democratic responses

In a possible problem for the Democratic ticket, a majority of the people believed that the press is trying to hurt Palin[45] and that type of unwarranted attack could have backfired into more support for the McCain/Palin ticket especially with unaffiliated voters believing the press is purposely attacking Palin by a 49% to 32% margin.

Many Democrats had advised the Obama campaign to ignore Palin, fearing that emphasis on her inexperience will backfire against Obama himself.[46] She participated in a debate with the Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden on October 2, 2008, ending up being declared the winner by most credible news sources that are not influenced by liberal bias.[47][48]

During a campaign event in Virginia, Barack Obama said of the McCain/Palin ticket's similar policies, "...You can put lipstick on a pig, it's still a pig."[49] Given the fact that she's stated "The difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull (is) lipstick" and the fact that only a female candidate would wear lipstick, the McCain camp released a web ad implying that the comment was targeting Governor Palin. The ad featured video clips of Gov. Palin convention speech, Obama's remarks at the campaign event, and a clip of Katie Couric commenting on pervasive sexism in the campaign. After extensive discussion in the news media, the ad was removed from McCain's website and other video sites following a copyright claim by CBS news. [50]

Impact on Ticket

In the run-up to the Vice-Presidential debate on October 2, 2008, a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center attempted to measure the degree to which Palin impacted the GOP ticket positively or negatively in September.[51] The survey compared the answers to two identical questions about her qualifications and overall favorable/unfavorable rating between polls taken in early and late September. The results show that public opinion of Palin has fallen significantly since the Republican convention, particularly in the public's opinion of her qualification to be Vice President. Faced with a barrage of negative press attacks after her nomination, some prominent Republicans like Mitt Romney believe that the isolation of Palin from the media in September was a mistake, and are calling for an increase in unscripted encounters with the press and public to counter that perception. According to Romney, "Holding Sarah Palin to just three interviews and microscopically focusing on each interview I think has been a mistake. I think they’d be a lot wiser to let Sarah Palin be Sarah Palin. Let her talk to the media, let her talk to people." [52] Exit polling from the election itself had the final say on the matter of her impact on the ticket. For those who considered her nomination on the ticket to be unimportant, 57% voted for Obama. For those who considered her nomination to be important, 53% voted for Obama, thereby showing a positive overall impact on the ticket. Considering that exit polling tilts Democratic, the actual impact may have been greater.


Palin filled out a policy questionnaire for the Eagle Forum Alaska during her 2006 gubernatorial race. One question asked, "Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?" Palin responded, "Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support." Yet public schools still resist teaching abstinence and instead promote sexual behavior by teenagers.

Another question asked, "Are you offended by the phrase 'Under God' in the Pledge of Allegiance? Why or why not?" Palin replied, "Not on your life. If it was good enough for the founding fathers, it's good enough for me and I'll fight in defense of our Pledge of Allegiance."

Many liberals ignorant of the history of "under God" have tried to ridicule Palin's remark, even calling her an "idiot" for it.[53][54] In fact, the origin of the phrase "under God" is the General Orders of George Washington on July 2 and 9, 1776: "The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army" (July 2); "the peace and safety of the Country now depends, under God, solely on the success of our arms" (July 9).[55] George Washington was indeed a Founding Father, and the Founding Fathers made no secret of their Christian faith and unfailing belief in God in the Declaration of Independence and later writings.

Palin also believes that students need to learn of the controversy surrounding the 'Theory' of evolution, and that discussing Creationism should not be banned from schools. During the 2006 campaign for the Alaskan Governorship, Palin was answering a question from the moderator near the conclusion of Wednesday night's televised debate on KAKM Channel 7 when she said, "Teach both. You know, don't be afraid of information. Healthy debate is so important, and it's so valuable in our schools. I am a proponent of teaching both."[56] She later clarified her position by stating "I don't think there should be a prohibition against debate if it comes up in class. It doesn't have to be part of the curriculum." She added that, if elected, she would not push the state Board of Education to add such creation-based alternatives to the state's required curriculum. As of September 2008 she has kept that pledge.

In a typical example of liberal mockery, the Huffington Post attempted to make light of Sarah Palin's creationist beliefs, highlighting the creationary belief that dinosaurs and man coexisted.[57] SNL likewise did a skit in which they had her refer to the Museum of Natural History as "that evolution museum".

Church Life

Sarah Palin was baptized as a Roman Catholic and, at age 12, she was rebaptized in the Wasilla Assembly of God church. [58][59]

Palin attends the Wasilla Bible Church[60], an independent congregation,[61][62] when at home and the Juneau Christian Center when in Juneau as governor.[63]


Whether or not people say that they like Sarah Palin, they gravitate to see her. She earned the highest TV ratings at the Republican convention when she spoke, even surpassing McCain's acceptance speech, and matched Obama's acceptance speech when he was in front of a Greek temple with a stadium of people. As a Vice Presidential candidate, that was unprecedented. Likewise her Vice Presidential debate with Joe Biden had more viewers than any of the three debates between McCain and Obama. Finally, her briefly appearing on Saturday Night Live gave the show its highest ratings in 14 years, and was actually the third highest ranked show for the week based on the number of people who tuned in originally to watch her, 17 million, even though it ran at midnight.[64]


  1. Acceptance Speech by Palin
  5. Obama Can't Win Against Palin Wall Street Journal, September 11, 2008
  6. McCain Names Alaska Gov. Palin as Running Mate Fox News, August 29, 2008
  8. Canadian Doctors 'Fear' Sarah Palin's Choice May Start a Trend Catholic Online, Septmeber 11, 2008
  9. 9.0 9.1 People magazine
  10. Alaska governor balances newborn's needs, official duties [1]
  11. Palin says 17-year-old daughter is pregnant
  12. Wasilla Population and Demographics
  13. Palin backed 'bridge to nowhere' in 2006
  14. Palin Was a Director of Embattled Sen. Ted Stevens's 527 Group
  15. Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service, Inc.
  16. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
  18. Source: Campaign website,, "Issues" Nov 7, 2006
  22. Windfall tax lets Alaska rake in billions from Big Oil
  23. Palin backed Alaskan windfalls-profit tax
  24. Palin touts stance on 'Bridge to Nowhere'
  25. Critics: Palin used 'Bridge to Nowhere' for gain
  27. 27.0 27.1 Palin "bridge to nowhere" line angers many Alaskans
  28. McCain had criticized earmarks from Palin
  29. McCain criticized Wasilla earmarks in 2001
  30. GOP Cites Palin's Skill, But How Relevant Is It?
  31. Asked about the Bush Doctrine...Palin is Clueless
  33. 33.0 33.1
  34. Investigation into Governor Sarah Palin's abuse of powers CBS 11, August 30, 2008
  35. Palin hires attorney for Troopergate investigation
  36. McCain Camp has pictures of "troopergate" investigators at Obama Headquarters, September 9, 2008
  37. Head of Palin trooper probe will stay, lawmaker says
  38. Palin's attorney calls investigator biased Ap, September 11, 2008
  40. Page 8
  46. Matt Coopoer, "Tips for Obama: Ignore Palin, Dis McCain," Sept. 5, 2008, Conde-Nast
  47. [2]
  48. [3]
  50. [4]
  54. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892, and George Washington's phrase "under God" was added to it in June 1954.
  58. Decker, Cathleen and Michael Finnegan, (August 30, 2008). Palin has risen quickly from PTA to VP pick. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2008-08-30.
  59. Gorsk, Eric. "Evangelicals energized by McCain-Palin ticket", Associated Press, 2008-08-30. Retrieved on 2008-08-30. 
  60. Pepper, David. Regarding Governor Palin: A Letter from Pastor David Pepper. Church on the Rock. Retrieved on 2008-09-04.
  61. Wasilla Bible Church FAQ. Retrieved on 2008-09-05.
  62. Lisa Miller and Amanda Coyne. "A Visit to Palin's Church: Scripture and discretion on the program in Wasilla." Newsweek. Sept. 2, 2008.
  63. Statement Concerning Sarah Palin. Juneau Christian Center (2008-09-03). Retrieved on 2008-09-04.

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