[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/04/art.palincampaigning0704.gi.jpg caption="Sarah Palin blasted the 'main stream media' in a July 4 message posted on Facebook."](CNN) - In an Independence Day message to supporters, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she was leaving office for a "higher calling" and blasted the "main stream media" for failing to understand her decision.
"How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it’s about country," she said in a message posted on her Facebook page. "And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make. But every American understands what it takes to make a decision because it’s right for all, including your family."
Palin said her administration had "accomplished more during this one term than most governors do in two."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Arizona Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, released a statement following his former running mate Sarah Palin's decision to step down as Alaska governor:
"I have the greatest respect and affection for Sarah, Todd, and their family. I was deeply honored to have her as my running mate and believe she will continue to play an important leadership role in the Republican party and our nation."
McCain raised eyebrows during a spring appearance on the Tonight Show when he listed five current and former GOP governors as possible party leaders - but didn't include Palin.
The Arizona senator has said in other interviews it is too early to say whether he will support her should she run for president in 2012.
But he's also praised Palin since Election Day, saying late last year of the Alaska governor, "It's one of the great pleasures I've had to get to know her and her family, and I think she has a very bright future in a leadership position in the Republican Party."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/04/art.biden070409.gi.jpg caption="Joe Biden says that he's not going to second guess Sarah Palin's decision to resign as governor of Alaska."](CNN) - Joe Biden said Saturday that he's not going to second guess Sarah Palin's decision to step down as governor of Alaska at the end of the month.
The vice president would not speculate on what led to Palin's move. "I didn’t hear her press conference," Biden told the New York Times. "All I was told was that she said and related to it was a personal decision a family decision and I take her at her word."
"In my experience that’s how 95 percent of decisions by public officials in both parties are made when they’re this important to their careers," Biden said.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska - daughter of Frank Murkowski, who was defeated by Sarah Palin in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary - released a statement Friday after the governor announced her decision to leave office by the end of the month. Full text:
“I am deeply disappointed that the Governor has decided to abandon the State and her constituents before her term has concluded.”
Her office added that the senator was traveling "in interior Alaska and communicating via satellite phone and is unavailable for follow up questions" for the rest of the weekend.
Last year, shortly after the GOP presidential ticket's November loss, Murkowski warned Palin not to make a run for her Senate seat: “I can guarantee it would be a very tough election,” she told Politico.
Roughly 2,000 small-government, anti-tax activists gathered in Washington, D.C. Saturday, part of the latest wave of nationwide "Tea Party" demonstrations to protest the fiscal policies of the Obama administration. (PHOTO CREDIT: Cody Combs/CNN)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Instead of celebrating the Fourth of July holiday with barbecues and sparklers, about 2,000 small-government advocates, toting signs and chanting slogans, rallied outside the U.S. Capitol Saturday.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/06/26/art.sanford3.cnn.jpg caption="Gov. Mark Sanford will return to South Carolina on Sunday after spending the weekend with his family in Florida."]COLUMBIA, South Carolina (CNN) - Gov. Mark Sanford will return to South Carolina on Sunday after spending two days with his wife and four boys in Florida, according to his office.
Sanford departed Columbia on Friday.
The visit marked the first time Sanford has seen his wife in person since he revealed to the Associated Press that his mistress is a “soul mate” and that he had “crossed lines” with other women.
Jenny Sanford released a statement Thursday calling Sanford’s actions “inexcusable,” but she left the door open to reconciling with her husband.
“The real issue now is one of forgiveness,” she said. “I am willing to forgive Mark for his actions.”
(CNN) - Alaskan Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who will succeed Gov. Sarah Palin after she leaves office later this month, called the governor Alaska's greatest gift to the United States on Saturday.
"I was very surprised at first," he said of Palin's decision to resign, which he said she told him Wednesday.
"But then as she began to explain why she was doing it, I began to see it was Sarah Palin, once again, moving to put Alaska's interest first," Parnell told CNN.
Palin, a Republican and John McCain's vice presidential running mate last year, said Friday she will step down as Alaska's chief executive by the end of the month and would not run for a second gubernatorial term in 2010.
"People who know me know that besides faith and family, nothing's more important to me than our beloved Alaska," Palin said at a news conference at her home in Wasilla.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A spokeswoman for Sarah Palin blamed the swarm of ethics complaints that have dogged the Alaska governor for Friday's surprise announcement that she would be leaving office by the end of the month.
When the former Republican vice presidential candidate returned to Alaska after the campaign and pressed her agenda, "she found...resistance, and she found as she looked up more and more that state time and resources were being just wasted with just frivolous ethics complaints coming in, and FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests and lawsuits - but to an extraordinary extent, and from literally those doing opposition research," spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux on The Situation Room Friday. "And so she said really, is this good for Alaska? Is this what a governor is supposed to do, sit and watch money going down the drain?"
Palin's return to her home state has been a rocky one. Beyond a flood of ethics complaints - most of which have been dismissed - the governor was forced to backtrack on her decision to reject federal stimulus funds, her pick for attorney general was rejected by an increasingly hostile legislature, and her personal life has continued to grab headlines.
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/04/art.bideniraq0704.gi.jpg caption="Vice President Joe Biden spoke to troops in Baghdad on July 4."]BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden enjoyed a star-spangled Fourth of July in Baghdad, where he celebrated American patriotism and mocked the ubiquitous ghost of Saddam Hussein.
He presided at a naturalization ceremony, where over 237 U.S. service members were sworn in to become American citizens. The loquacious vice president later playfully swore at the memory of the former Iraqi dictator, toppled by the U.S. military in 2003.
Noting that the naturalization event that took place in the Al-Faw Palace - one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, Biden joked to U.S. troops over the significance of holding such an event at this fallen gaudy symbol of the former dictator's iron-fisted regime.
"We did it in Saddam's palace and I can think of nothing better," he told troops later, after the swearing-in event. "That S.O.B. is rolling over in his grave right now."
[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/04/art.obama0704.wh.jpg caption="President Obama gives his weekly address."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama pointed to the "spirit of America" to make the case for his domestic agenda in his Independence Day radio and Web broadcast.
He said the same "unyielding spirit" that drove the pioneers and Depression-era workers was needed now to push for a national health care overhaul, make major energy policy changes, and deal with a struggling economy, he said in his weekly address.
"We are not a people who fear the future. We are a people who make it," he said. "And on this July 4th, we need to summon that spirit once more. We need to summon the same spirit that inhabited Independence Hall two hundred and thirty-three years ago today."
The president's energy and health care plans are currently being considered by Congress, where they have encountered questions over their price tag and long-term effects.
Full Obama address after the jump