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. Jim

    very pathetic...would she be the type to quit the vice-presidency mid-term?

    we are lucky that obama/biden won, Palin does not belong in politics. She'd make a good church usher though......

    July 7, 2009 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  2. Bri

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

    Two and a half years of heading one of the smallest populated states in the country. And 4 years of presidency will lead to what? A total breakdown? No thanks.

    You can spin this all you want Sarah, but you QUIT.

    July 7, 2009 07:17 am at 7:17 am |
  3. Seattle Rocks

    Now she's blaming David Letterman for quitting! Sarah Palin is a loser and has shown her true colors – she is a QUITTER, not a fighter. And if anyone can decipher a sentence this idiot says please fill the rest of us in!!

    July 7, 2009 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  4. floridabob

    Perhaps with the stepping down she will become a part of the history the Palintologists will study.

    July 7, 2009 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  5. audacity of a dope

    If she cut her hair real short and dressed like a man (typical liberal woman) democrats would embrace her.

    July 7, 2009 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  6. Alex

    What an idiot...

    July 7, 2009 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  7. WIll 18E

    She quites, does not serve he full term which the voteres expected of her. And now says she's not a quitter?Palin now sounds just like Bill Clinton. I quess it's her private definition of quiting.

    July 7, 2009 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  8. Susan in NC

    "I am not a quitter. I'm a whiner. The media still can't get it right."

    July 7, 2009 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  9. Sylvia

    Then how do you explain quitting?

    July 7, 2009 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  10. mells

    Since when does quitting equal fighting. You quit. We all saw you quit. "I'm taking my ball and going home and not going to play with you anymore". That is quitting of the third grader variety.

    July 7, 2009 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  11. B-man

    This woman is a joke AND a quitter. She didn't serve her constituents very well by resigning and it shows what lack of character she has.

    July 7, 2009 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  12. Gracie, MD

    OKAY –

    Maybe Sarah Palin is just delusional. But the FACT remains that she quit when she had a CONTRACT with the residents and her devoted CONSTITUENTS of Alaska clearly defines her as a QUITTER. She bailed out on Alaska, you can't have it BOTH ways Governor. A "fighter" NEVER, EVER quits.

    You either had the balls to FINISH your term or YOU'RE A QUITTER.

    Making excuses AFTER THE FACT is merely laughable. YOU should have thought about your decision just a wee bit LONGER if you didn't want to be considered a QUITTER nationally. NOW everyone knows that you are nothing but a quitter.

    July 7, 2009 07:26 am at 7:26 am |
  13. Chasm

    Let's see....hmmm, stepping down from office 18 months before your elected term expires??? Sounds like "quitting" to me. Par for the course for this woman. Can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. THIS is what all her fanatics believe is Presidential material?? Your proverbial "breath of fresh air" has become nothing more than a wind bag. Fighters don't quit. Ever. Fighters see it through to the, sometimes, bitter end. This woman gave up.

    July 7, 2009 07:27 am at 7:27 am |
  14. Garofulaar

    Palin's actions speak louder than her incoherent words.

    July 7, 2009 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  15. Dave

    So she's not a quitter. That's funny – she just quit her job as Governor with 18 months to go in her first term. Sounds a lot like a quitter to me. Seriously, if this twit with her delusions of grandeur thinks she's going to mount a serious run at the Presidency, she needs a reality check and soon. It means nothing that she plays well with the grassroots knuckle-draggers of the GOP. She has a better chance at being elected dog-catcher than President.

    July 7, 2009 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  16. cfrench

    Two and a half years through her term as Governor of a state of 600,000 people and she resigns because of the pressure. Gee, what does she think the Presidency of the United States would be like, a cake walk? If Palin does indeed make the foolish choice of running for President she'll be gutted early in the primaries.

    Nice savior you got there, republicans.

    July 7, 2009 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  17. Ricky

    I just love her! Hope to see more of her and millions of us support this great woman. Go Sarah!

    July 7, 2009 07:30 am at 7:30 am |
  18. RL.

    Yeah, she resigned!! Now I wish she would just go away into the Alaskan sunset. For those who think she could be the next president, we might as well just have President Obama's inauguration early, because there is no way she could beat him, and if the Republicans think she can, they are delusional. Rock star? Remember which presidental candidate was referred to that first, there is no way she could bring in the crowds that the President did.

    July 7, 2009 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  19. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Sarah Palin wants to be POTUS, but yet she and her husband belonged to a seccessionist group that wanted to break away from the USA. Do you want a person like that in public office, let alone running the country?

    That question needs to be asked and answered!!!

    Perhaps Sarah can use her unaccredited journalism degree/perceived skills to work responding to that?

    Don't like these questions? Well, just wait until the old, angry white men of the GOP start in on her..........just wait!!!

    July 7, 2009 07:32 am at 7:32 am |
  20. Obama

    haha.. okay tell that IF u run for Pres why you quit... how many reasons so far? So IF she runs for Pres or Vice PRes and then the press is all over her family and letterman is still making jokes like he always has and always will.. is she gonna run off and quit her job? Many Pres and Vice Pres have been while in office taken to court, had some sort of scandal they had to settle and testify about, and it takes too much money away from the taxpayers to fight.. So she gonna quit?

    But yet she can use taxpayers money to file charges against the media for assumptions on why she is quitting?

    Something aint right about her! I think she is an Alien from another Planet because as much as I TRY to understand her and her actions. I CANT!!!!!

    July 7, 2009 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  21. marg from ND

    Yes you are! Leaving a job because the heat got too hot, is quitting.

    After that babbling, disjointed "speech", I hope everyone will finally realize she is not capable of running our country. She was not even capable of running a state.

    July 7, 2009 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  22. A Real Republican

    Palin says she is not a quitter... because she's an idiot. She's an embarrassment to the Republican Party and to the Conservative movement. Good riddance!

    July 7, 2009 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  23. sparky

    She may be a quitter or she may be a fighter. The bottom line is she is a FLAKE!

    July 7, 2009 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  24. The black spider

    It's so troubling for me to see this great nation giving consideration for this woman Sarah Palin. The GOP lost me completely by puting this woman on the front line to the point that she was one stepp forward to become this great nation VP or even president considering the age and medical record of their candidate.
    1. This woman is unarticulate, uneducated and for god sake who voted for her to become mayor and governor?
    2. It was troubling for me to see her draguing her whole family from stage to stage during the campaign even the young baby with special needs.
    3. Her husband (another uneducated) has no shame at all.

    July 7, 2009 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
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