July 7th, 2009
05:00 AM ET
14 years ago

Palin says she is not a quitter

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) - Sarah Palin's not a quitter, she wants the public to know.

"I am not a quitter. I am a fighter," Palin told CNN on Monday while on a family fishing trip, on the heels of her Friday bombshell announcement that she was resigning as Alaska's governor.

Palin did her interview standing on the shores of Dillingham, Alaska, wearing hip waders. She granted 10-minute interviews to CNN and three other news networks Monday.

She resigned because of the tremendous pressure, time and financial burden of a litany of ethics complaints in the past several months, she said. The complaints were without merit and took away from the job she wanted to do for Alaskans, Palin said.

The decision to resign a year and a half before her term ends, and her rambling, often-disjointed resignation speech Friday, fueled days of debate among political analysts.

Speculation has run rampant that Palin, the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008, will seek the presidency in 2012.

When pressed about her future, Palin would say only that she would work in public service. She did not rule out a run for the White House or any other political office.

Palin is to leave the governor's office in late July.

The days since her resignation had been exhilarating and she loved being in Dillingham, a town of only a few thousand people and no cell phone service, Palin said.

On Monday, her personal lawyer also spoke about her resignation.

No legal "bombshell" or personal scandal lies behind Palin's resignation, but off-color jokes by talk-show host David Letterman contributed to her decision to step down, Thomas Van Flein said.

The governor needed a break after being "on duty now for two and a half years solid," he said.

"There is no bombshell. There is no shoe to drop. There are no investigations of any type that I'm aware of - no IRS audit, no federal investigation, no state investigation," Van Flein told CNN. "There is no legal reason in terms of a legal problem that compelled the governor to resign."

Friday was "deliberately chosen" for the announcement because of its proximity to the July Fourth holiday, Van Flein said: "She declared her independence from politics as usual."

Palin reiterated that statement in her interview.

Rep. Les Gara, an Anchorage Democrat and a frequent Palin critic, said everyone was "wildly surprised" by Palin's announcement.

"A lot of us were pretty disappointed in the concept that she can't finish out a governor's term," Gara said. Palin's resignation speech was "kind of similar to everything that has gone wrong since the governor has gotten back from her vice presidential campaign," Gara said.

"When she came into office, everything was about openness and transparency, and now everything's about excuses," he said.

But Rep. Jay Ramras, a Fairbanks Republican who leads the state House Judiciary Committee, said when it comes to public opinion, "The concrete hasn't set up yet."

"Those that seem to have responsibilities to manage businesses that manage people seem to be much less tolerant of what she did," Ramras said after attending Independence Day events over the weekend. Those people consider her "a quitter," he said.

"And then there's another group, where Gov. Palin has been successful in being able to imply - and certainly these people have inferred - that she was a victim."

The 45-year-old governor had faced intense scrutiny since Sen. John McCain picked her out of relative obscurity to be his running mate last year.

Though her acceptance speech drew rave reviews, her subsequent shaky performance in network news interviews, the drama surrounding her 18-year-old daughter's pregnancy and two ethics probes into her earlier firing of the state's public safety director dogged her throughout the rest of the campaign.

"In my opinion, she was the national campaign for Republicans last fall," Van Flein said. "I know John McCain was the candidate, but the decision was really about Sarah Palin and could she take on Obama. That was a lot of weight on her shoulders to carry that campaign, and they almost pulled it off."

As Election Day neared with McCain trailing in the polls, campaign aides began sniping at Palin as a "diva" who ignored top advisers and lacked "fundamental understanding" of key issues in the race. The McCain-Palin ticket ultimately lost to Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden last November.

Van Flein also said Palin would remain involved in public service, with no other decisions made at this point. But Gara said it was clear to him that Palin has her eye on another bid for national office.

"We can all guess," he said. "My guess is the governor wants to be president, and that's what she should have said at her press conference."

Palin thought she would stop being a "lightning rod" once she returned to Alaska, but "it never really did simmer down," Van Flein said. Ethics complaints from critics led to her paying back taxes on state per diem funds she received while living at her home in Wasilla, outside Anchorage; another investigation led to her paying about $8,100 in travel expenses for her children.

Van Flein said the state's ethics process, which Palin signed into law, has been "abused" to harass her and may lead Alaskans to ignore more serious allegations. And he said Letterman's early June joke about one of her daughters being "knocked up" by New York Yankees outfielder Alex Rodriguez "demonstrated to her that there's some sort of disconnect here."

"When people don't accept normal bounds of decency making jokes like that about children, maybe this is not good for the state right now," Van Flein said. "And maybe somebody else who is not the subject, and whose family is not the subject of this scrutiny, can move the state forward."

Letterman said the joke was aimed at Palin's older daughter, Bristol, who had a son with her high-school boyfriend in December. However, Palin was in New York traveling with her 14-year-old daughter Willow at the time, and she accused Letterman of making jokes about sex with an underage girl.

The CBS "Late Show" host ultimately apologized, saying "If you have to explain the joke, it's not a very good joke."

Despite leaving office about two-thirds of the way through her term, Palin "is not a quitter," Van Flein said. He added that she "already accomplished her major goals," including winning legislative approval for a massive natural gas pipeline.

But Ramras, who calls himself "a pro-development, conservative Republican," called that assertion "crazy." Though the pipeline project won approval in the state Legislature, Alaska has yet to establish a "durable and predictable" financial structure that will get producers to commit to the plan.

"Anyone who thinks we've started anything is delusional. ... What she did was she created a Gordian knot and then handed it off to someone else," he said.
- CNN's Matt Smith contributed to this report.

Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Vigla

    Oh, sure. You're not a quitter. I think Richard Nixon said that too... Look, I don't wan't some flake to be POTUS, OK? This woman doesn't deserve the attention she's getting. She ran a state I could run and she quit because of the pressure? PLEASE! I'm sick and tired of hearing about her. Bottom line is she didn't want to go through the re-election process and figured she had enough of being Gov. Besides, the whole reason she ran was to get her brother in law fired and was unsuccessful.

    Everyone, please forget about Palin. She can't handle the pressure of being Gov of the least populus state and you think she can handle being President? ARE YOU SERIOUS?

    July 7, 2009 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  2. Grog in Ohio

    "She resigned because of the tremendous pressure, time and financial burden of a litany of ethics complaints in the past several months, she said."

    In other words... she quit? Does she even attempt to be logical? Ever?

    July 7, 2009 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  3. Donna

    So Palin, if you became President and you one day decided that you didn't want that job anymore... would you quit that too?

    July 7, 2009 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  4. Susan

    She is a quitter, plain and simple. If she could not handle the pressure of running for national office, or handle the pressure of the remainder of her term as governor, how in Gods name could she handle being President??!! Imagine her making a rambling statement and use the pity party excuse to another foreign leader ! This woman is a total failure at her job, and at other jobs she has attempted. She has quit before. No backbone for when the going gets tough. What I fund so funny is that she criticized Hillary Clinton when showing emotion, but God forbid anybody criticize her! Good Riddance!!

    July 7, 2009 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  5. letsgetreal

    She can't take the heat as Governor, but wants to be President?
    Right. NOT!!!!
    Buh Bye Sarah.

    July 7, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  6. Scott, Tucson

    Well we know that the FBI is not investigating Sara, they're too busy investigating the democrats on the Hill.

    July 7, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  7. Tina

    Why don't people leave this woman alone? She will soon no longer be a public figure. She and her family deserve privacy. So leave her alone!!!

    July 7, 2009 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  8. Alex

    What a joke. The Republicans can have her run for President and lose. She is an idiot!

    July 7, 2009 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  9. Cincinnati611

    Total nonsense from Sarah Palin. Next thing you know, she'll claim she doesn't wear glasses! What a goof-ball!!

    July 7, 2009 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  10. RMC

    If she was really a fighter she would stay in office and fight. She is a complete narcissist, only out for herself and her own self-interests and evidently not altogether there in the brain department. Her resignation is a slap in the face to all of her supporters and anyone who still supports her in light of this type of behavior (are you there "Team Sarah"?) really needs to take a step back and get their priorities in order.

    July 7, 2009 08:46 am at 8:46 am |
  11. Ron

    Quit my job, gone fishing, "you betch ya". Not a quitter huh? You have a moral obligation, a verbal contract, and millions of donated campaign funds to place you, where you asked to be. Do us all a favor, stay out of politics. We have had enough Republican disappointments to last a generation. Should you decide to run for the presidential office in 2012, Obama will have to send you packing for your next fishing trip, again. Oh, by the way Sarah, I am a registered Republican who voted for Mr. Obama, and so far, no regrets.

    July 7, 2009 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  12. Mickey Dean

    the republican party and it's most likely to succeed canidates for
    2012 have shot themselves in the foot so many times, they may have to aim higher.

    July 7, 2009 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  13. Michael Sutherland

    If she's not a quitter, why did she...quit?

    July 7, 2009 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  14. Jeff in Virginia

    where's the video?

    July 7, 2009 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  15. RAG

    If she is not a quitter, then the Pope isn't Catholic, bears don't i live in the woods and kids don't like candy.

    What a miserable excuse for a public official. A self righteous self deluded cry baby of unbelieveable proportions. Thank God she is no longer a threat to the Republic. America has seen her, seen through her, and is slighty ashamed at paying her any mind at all.

    If she were a fictional character, the novelist would have to create a new genre just to contain her. Magical Unrealism? Psycho-farce?

    Good bye, Sarah and Good... well Good bye.

    July 7, 2009 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  16. EyesWideOpen

    "There is no bombshell. There is no shoe to drop. There are no investigations of any type that I'm aware of — no IRS audit, no federal investigation, no state investigation," Van Flein told CNN. "There is no legal reason in terms of a legal problem that compelled the governor to resign."

    Oh okay, so she really is just a plain ol' quitter then. I would respect her more if there really was a reason for her ducking her duties.

    July 7, 2009 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  17. welches, oregon

    but she just proved she is. Failin' Palin' – what a joke

    July 7, 2009 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  18. Algernon

    I have never been a Sarah Palin hater, but this is absurd on its face. What part of abandoning her important elected position mid-way through her term because she didn't like the pressure and the criticism is not "quitting?"

    July 7, 2009 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  19. Roy Arellano (San Antonio)

    It doesn't matter who she is, to quit in the middle of your first term. To quit before finishing the mision, is quiting. Even if the reasons or excuses are legitimate, quiting is still quiting.

    How can you turn around and say, I've been a political "executive," or I know how to lead representatives of the People towards political success, if you desire not to even complete the task at hand.

    Any military person knows as well as I do, quiting is quiting.

    July 7, 2009 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  20. Reginald

    "Life is too short to compromise time and resources... it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: Sit down and shut up, but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and go with the flow." So instead of taking the quitters way out, she chose to quit.

    July 7, 2009 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  21. Roy Arellano (San Antonio)

    P.S. > Making yourself the victim or the martyr for every little political attack is not a sign of strength, leadership, or ability to represent the People.

    July 7, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  22. mayr malool

    Palin is one strange bird! If she quit becauseshe was under too much pressure for ethics, she could NEVER handle the highest office! Not that I ever thought she could. God help us if she ever did run for President! Scary thought indeed! I think she quit because someone offered her a big money job doing something else. I think she loves the spotlight and attention, and no way would she leave public office to spend more time with family. She's too self-centered for that. She has proven here that she is not dependable and IS a quitter, no matter what she says!

    July 7, 2009 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  23. Tim from Tampa

    If she can't handle the pressures of being governor of Alaska (pop. 700,000) how can she even imagine she'll be able to handle the pressures of president? Stay home, Sarah, your 15 minutes are over.

    July 7, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  24. Bread and Circuses

    Thank goodness there's a Sarah Palin story for everyone to comment on. It sure would be horrible if people stopped paying attention to non-news like this and actually realized what was really happening around them. And no, I am not referring to the Michael Jackson funeral either.

    July 7, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  25. Tony in Maine

    It's Bill Clinton's fault.

    July 7, 2009 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
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