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. zago

    She resigns office to go fishing. What a disaster for the GOP to have such leaders. One would expect her to stay in office getting things done to improve lives. Now she's quitting to go on family fishing trip. Are you joking me? That's the GOP

    July 7, 2009 04:11 am at 4:11 am |
  2. Its what you do, not what you say, that matters

    yap yap yap

    how about you show us that you can quit talking?

    If you are not a quitter, than why did you just show us you quitting?

    A fine example you have set for women all accross the heart land

    July 7, 2009 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  3. Spencer

    I'm okay with her quitting as much as she wants as long as she is a fighter, and not a quitter.

    July 7, 2009 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  4. Kenney in Albany

    What is the difference between steping down before your term and quiting your job? Can you image the unslaught of attacks that Omaba has been enduring since decided to campaign with only a quick trip to Hawaii and New York City. He didn't just QUIT.

    July 7, 2009 04:33 am at 4:33 am |
  5. Willow Reasons

    How far along is she?

    July 7, 2009 04:40 am at 4:40 am |
  6. Leo

    Cut & Run Palin, you are a quitter....and, they never win.

    July 7, 2009 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  7. Troy


    Not a quitter......not a quitter......errr I quit.

    July 7, 2009 04:57 am at 4:57 am |
  8. Palin was always a joke

    She is just getting a headstart on becoming the footnote she was destined to become.

    July 7, 2009 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  9. Gabe

    She's a quitter... lol. What else can you say. I mean Bush had horrible approval ratings, comedians were making fun of him, and other countries didn't respect him, but he stayed in office. She can spin it however she wants... she's a quitter.

    July 7, 2009 05:06 am at 5:06 am |
  10. Laura, WA

    Wow. Really, Sarah? You want to tell the world that a stupid joke by a late-night comic factored into your decision to resign your office? I guess you must not EVER be planning to run for President. Stupd jokes and hurtful remarks will be made on a daily basis should you (God forbid) ever attain that office, and people won't have a lot of patience for listening to the leader of the free world spend an entire week whining about a joke, either.

    July 7, 2009 05:10 am at 5:10 am |
  11. nyindependent

    Oh, she's lots of things....add "quitter" to the list!

    July 7, 2009 05:16 am at 5:16 am |
  12. Fred

    The first common-sense rule of politics - and life - is when you've dug yourself into a hole, stop digging.

    The only thing more delusional than Palin's speech last Friday and the spindoctor followups from her supporters, is their belief that anyone outside their group will accept it at face value - and their outrage when it isn't.

    July 7, 2009 05:20 am at 5:20 am |
  13. will

    I can't wait til I see the republicans really say how they feel about her... Plz run in 2012

    July 7, 2009 05:22 am at 5:22 am |
  14. Love ;-)

    Is Palin's lawyer blaming her resignation on David Letterman?

    July 7, 2009 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  15. DonnieJ

    So she's not quitting her governorship, she's fighting it . . .

    July 7, 2009 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  16. dee

    She could not stand the heat so she got out the kitchen. way to take your own advice. miss quitter twitter

    July 7, 2009 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  17. Larry

    Palin is proof of how disjointed the Republican party has become.

    July 7, 2009 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  18. mark ferbet, kansas city, mo.

    apparently having quit her job before it was done, having created a mess in Alaska, and walking away is not quitting in the eyes of this politician... she needs to read a dictionary... you can sugarcoat it all you like lady, but you quit your job when the going got tough.... so, therefore, YOU are a quitter.

    July 7, 2009 05:40 am at 5:40 am |
  19. Tom in Delaware

    "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."

    It never ceases to amaze me that in the 8 months since the election, these oft-quoted 'campaign aides' never seem to have actual names.

    As for her 'quitting'...Palin 'quit' the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission after exposing the ethics violations of her own party, she then went on to become Alaska's first female and youngest governor...but that would be something called 'context and contrast'...two key elements that must be removed in order to pursue 'The Politics of Personsal Destruction'.

    July 7, 2009 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  20. Pragmatic

    She resigned because of the tremendous pressure. Perhaps she prefers "cut & run" to quitter? When the going gets tough – the tough get going .... Palin? ... she went fishing

    She could have stayed and used her executive leadership skills to make Alaska great ... but she went fishing ..

    Sorry, Sarah – just saying that you aren't a quitter doesn't make it so....

    July 7, 2009 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  21. Daniel Plainview

    My dictionary defines quitter as "one that quits", it is also a synonym for abdicator: "one who formally relinquishes an office or responsibility".

    So Mrs. Palin, while in your mind you see yourself as "not a quitter", the rest of the world definitely does.

    Sarah "The Barracuda" Palin got as far as she did on a combination of good looks, gender politics and raw ambition. But from now on you'll always be known as Sarah " The Quitter" Palin.

    July 7, 2009 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  22. Life long Democrat

    I wish the best to Sarah Palin and her family. I hope she is able to move beyond this whole ordeal and be successful in whatever path she chooses. God bless you, Sarah.

    July 7, 2009 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  23. John

    Sarah you quit. You are therefore a quitter no matter how you wish to spin it. You were not worthy of higher elected office before you ran away and now you are even less worthy. Good Riddance to you!

    July 7, 2009 06:08 am at 6:08 am |
  24. Jasmine in Germany

    Palin's weak resignation speech showed a lack of credibility. She continues with her "I can pull the wool over their eyes, I can fool some of the people some of the time" modus operandi, instead of making a concrete, realistic, intelligent speech.

    It's likely that some investigations would have led to an embarrassing resignation and she's saving herself from the fall from grace humiliation. Palin is likely to go on the road to promote her "books" and may be negotiating for a TV talk show (while she's still somewhat popular). There's lots of money to be made here and that is certainly more attractive than falling from grace and not having gainful future employment.

    July 7, 2009 06:11 am at 6:11 am |
  25. Neilz

    "I'm not a quitter, I'm a fighter. But I quit. I'm not going to fight anymore. I'm going to pass the ball, walk off the court and scream from the sidelines. It pays better. Look at Coulter and Malkin. I can be just as ignorant, rude and offensive as those ladies. Even better. Besides, Olberman needs me. His show's gone stale since he stopped covering O'Reilly, the poor dear."

    July 7, 2009 06:14 am at 6:14 am |
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