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. T'SAH from Virginia

    SHE'S A "QUITTER" – What a LAME excuse. Could you imagine a parent allowing their child to QUIT school because they want to FIGHT their way through seeking an acting career OR any other career for that matter!!! PAAAA – LEEEEZZZZZ!!!!

    The best FIGHT for her was remaining a governor – she let down EVERYONE who voted for her in ALASKA!!! What would have happened if she did become VICE PRESIDENT?????

    This is her way of getting some kind of REALITY SHOW or something because she got a little taste of the BOTTOM 48 STATES and got HOOKED!!! Mark my words – she has some sort entertainment in the making!!!

    July 7, 2009 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  2. J

    Well when you quit and abandon your state in a time of crisis that is called "Quitting" Doncha know.

    Even Fox News said it FOX NEWS!! She is inarticulate and undereducated, which is just a nice way of saying she is dumb as a post and completely unqualified to lead a matching band so forget about a state.

    July 7, 2009 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  3. paul

    LEAVE IT ALONE, MediaFOLK and the rest of us. Allow this person the freedom to opt out!! This is not NEWS when the world has so much going on in it! What is happening in Iran? or in XianJing China? Or in Israel/Palestine? What about the economy and what Obama and administration are doing?

    Its bad enough that the only news we've been hearing over the last few days has been about Michael Jackson and Sarah Palin must we continually dig with a broken spoon for dirt on Palin's resignation? PLEASE. This is why I now only watch Larry King on CNN anymore (except this week ... MJ coverage).

    I don't know how CNN can continually say "MOST NEWS ALL THE TIME" when its "SORT OF NEWS MOST OF THE TIME"

    July 7, 2009 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  4. TK

    Am I the only one who would like to have politicians representing us that are smarter than me? She's embarrassingly stupid; do people just not see this? The whole notion of wanting a representative that you' have a beer with or you feel is "one of you" is a REALLY bad idea.

    July 7, 2009 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  5. Boots Tibbs

    She is every comedian's dream.

    July 7, 2009 07:43 am at 7:43 am |
  6. Sandra Day

    Okay, Republicans. You created her; now you are stuck with her. She could be cutting a knife through your party for years. She will be off on her own (maybe for decades) declaring "her independence from politics as usual." I think the Republicans have a lot more to fear from her than the Democrats.

    July 7, 2009 07:44 am at 7:44 am |
  7. OpinionsMatter

    Black is white, up is down, east is west.

    Despite what she says, Palin is a quitter.

    July 7, 2009 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
  8. Sarah

    I don't care how many people are criticizing you or talking about your family; when you are in a public position–be it a famous actor, the governor of Alaska, or the President of the United States, people are going to talk about you and you need to get over it! It comes with the territory. Don't sign up for the job unless you are willing to handle the pressure, which Sarah Palin obviously isn't. What kind of leader abandons her constituents (remember that high Alaska approval rating?) just because she is being criticized? Well, she should have thought long and hard about that before ever deciding to run for public office. And now some speculate she is debating a 2010 campaign for the Presidency? Well, if she thinks the criticism was bad running our most remote state, imagine what it would be like for her if she were to run for the most powerful position in the entire world. I'm so tired of hearing these talking heads on TV explaining what she needs to do to get ready for 2010. Are you kidding me? Are we forgetting what she sounded like just last year? If Sarah Palin can't even lead her own state, she should just forget about leading our nation.

    July 7, 2009 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  9. OpinionsMatter

    Palin's lawyer: "The governor needed a break after being "on duty now for two and a half years solid," he said." Ooh ... a whole two and a half years! And people honestly anticipate that she can be president? Laughable.

    July 7, 2009 07:46 am at 7:46 am |
  10. Simba

    Palin has been quite brazen and erratic. Despite her undoubted magnetism, her judgment and temparament leave a lot to be desired.

    July 7, 2009 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  11. Ed Tallahassee FL

    resign = quiting

    July 7, 2009 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  12. Lois

    Palin stepped down because she wants to run for Senator in 2010 and then President in 2012. She's delusional!!! Could we all just ignore her and stop putting her in the news-she wants to be in the news-free publicity!!! Have Republicans lost their minds?????

    July 7, 2009 07:48 am at 7:48 am |
  13. LIZ

    She and her family were attacked more by the mainstream media than any other Political (Hillary came in a close 2nd) person in recent history - She must have been doing something RIGHT!!! Maybe, she'll be the catalyst for a new Independent party that truly believes in the values of America and her people.

    July 7, 2009 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  14. Seriously?

    Hey Sarah, you can't even make sense with only an eight word sentence. "I'm not a quitter, I'm a fighter." Let's break that down. A quitter quits. A fighter stays and fights. Which did you do? It is clear that your fruit basket carries only rotting berries. For the good of your party, stay the heck out of politics.

    July 7, 2009 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
  15. R in Maine

    Not a quitter? You just quit and have had your lawyer threaten to sue anyone who upsets your perverted view of the world. Just let it go and stop insulting the serious candidates. You are not qualified to do anything but quit.

    July 7, 2009 07:50 am at 7:50 am |
  16. Matthew Gallant

    No, she's not a quitter. She's a shirker! Learn the difference, media!

    July 7, 2009 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  17. mamasboy

    I think she's quiting because she sad she would not take the stimulus money for her state now she seen her mistake. In away she is doing the best thing for her and the state she keeps her word and the state gets the money..

    July 7, 2009 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  18. Mike

    "I am not a quitter. I am a fighter," Palin told CNN. Just because you say it, Sarah, doesn't make it so.

    You quit. That makes you a quitter.

    Now please go away.

    July 7, 2009 07:52 am at 7:52 am |
  19. Duncan

    Yep, she resigned because of 'pressure' of the job even though the complaints were without merit. She makes it should like she was the one dealing with the complaints and not the mass of staff.

    She also needed a break after being on duty for two and a half years.. oh my.. What about all those trips, vacations etc.. I wish I had half the vacations she has had.

    Seriously, I don't want someone like Palin in any office when she can't take the media pressure which she herself has caused.

    July 7, 2009 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  20. Mary Beth

    Sarah, go away. Far away. And shut up. Please.

    July 7, 2009 07:57 am at 7:57 am |
  21. Steve F

    So leaving your job a year and a half early when millions of people were counting on you (hence why they VOTED for you) isn't quitting? I want to know where she went to school where they teach this stuff...

    July 7, 2009 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  22. Will

    She quit, but she's not a quitter. Yeah, and white is really black and down is the new up.

    July 7, 2009 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  23. Roger

    Please.......are there actually people left that still believe and support this shallow, ditzy political novice.

    July 7, 2009 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  24. Thomas

    Palin not a quitter? I really wish she was.

    Ms. Palin needs to understand that she was only a tool of the GOP last election. When that tool failed to work, her value to the GOP was over.

    She needs to fade into the obscurity she so richly deserves.

    I wish the Palins the best of luck in their private lives. But she needs to stay out of politics.

    July 7, 2009 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  25. Big Mowma

    Call it what you want. If you don't fulfill your obligations, then your accountability is in question. We'll call you unaccountable instead.

    July 7, 2009 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
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