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. Joe E.

    .......................... And then she QUITS! This woman has all the intelligence of a bag of rocks, and has used all of the arguments that a bag of rocks might make in any situation. Please leave the stage ..... Permanently!

    July 7, 2009 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  2. Debbie

    If she couldn't handle the "pressure" of working for a small population state for 2-1/2 yrs straight, how would she ever handle the pressure of running the greatest country for 4 or 8 yrs straight?

    July 7, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  3. AJP

    If she doesn't think she is viewed as a quitter, she must be looking at the world through rose colored glasses.

    If I couldn't take the heat in my job I would have quite years ago.

    I don't believe Sarah knows what she wants. The basic problem she has, is that she was thrown into the national spotlight to fast and was unable to cope with the responsibility one has in such a position.

    July 7, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |

    Obama, McCain, Sebellius, Napolitano, HR Clinton, Biden did not receive this type of criticism for abandoning their post to pursue another while still collecting a paycheck; or for abandoning an elected office for an appointment.
    Arlen Specter received less media scrutiny for his blatant self interest party defection than Palin's children endured since last fall. Where is the critique and exposure of the families of Edwards, Spitzer, Sanford and Ensign, to name a few?

    The question remains: what is the lowest common denominator in the ORIGIN of the "ethics compllaints"? Is Palin the target because of her charges against Obama in the last election; or because she represents the strongest perceived threat to the Dems?

    John Edwards, Mark Sanford, Elliot Spitzer

    July 7, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  5. Uncle Harry

    Well, whaddya expect. This is the lady that came to fame delivering a great speech off a teleprompter about how her opponent could only read great speeches off a teleprompter ... and then showing she couldn't put two sentences together without one. Who threw around horsepucky about "palling around with terrorists" and then complained about how those nasty media were being so mean to her. Pretty much the queen of "dish it out but can't take it".

    This was Ms. "Gee, that sounds socialist to me" that grabbed even more money from the private oil companies to dish out to anyone and everyone in the state whether they'd done anything for it or not. Hugo Chavez must have been cheering from the sidelines. The gal who dropped out of five colleges without getting a degree.

    If she says it's sunny out, go and grab your umbrella, and if she says she's not a quitter, count on it. She's a quitter.

    July 7, 2009 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  6. George

    She just did quit. Whatever she's smoking I wish she's share some.
    She just walked away from Alaska. Let's say she became president.
    Would she walk away from America also? My guess is you betcha!!!

    July 7, 2009 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  7. Sharon Kitchen

    she did quit. she should take care of her family and herself.
    There will be plenty of time to see what she realy is up to.

    July 7, 2009 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  8. Anny

    Your a quiter no matter how you try to explain it Palin..........and all your excuses smell like Dead Fish...........your little conservative GOP group may want you as President but the rest of the millions of Americans DON:T.......you might get a spot on FOX but if you can't talk coherient enough then you will lose the audience the only thing I can see is that you will make a good FEMALE RUSH LIMBAUGH but then you will have to fight him and the other radio talk show hosts for air time........so I don't see a future for you anywhere but home in Alaska. So stay home........you have stirred up a hornets nest with the main stream media you have blamed them for everything under the sun and they ain't going to let up on you now.........and they shouldn't........go get her CMNN, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC

    July 7, 2009 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  9. Fred the Moderate

    You quit because the pressure was to much but your not a quitter?

    Your a fighter but you ran away from the fight?

    Your not a quitter or a fighter, but a fighter that quits?

    You are as confused as ever!

    I will miss the "Sad and Sinking Sarah", because you no longer have any relevence!

    July 7, 2009 08:05 am at 8:05 am |
  10. Bubba

    Um, didn't she just quit? Well then, she's a quitter. Didn't she just wade? Then she's a wader. You are what you do, Sarah baby. Now please quit bothering us. You're a botherer, too.

    July 7, 2009 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  11. bobbie tray

    I don't get the rationale "I am a fighter so that is why I am resigning." Has logic gone out the window in this womans mind? Does she really think about what she says before she says it?

    July 7, 2009 08:06 am at 8:06 am |
  12. Savage

    Dear Sarah,

    You just QUIT the job your constituents elected you to do.

    Hence, you ARE a quitter.

    Not that I would ever expect you to understand something so complex.


    One of the millions completely astounded that you were ever even considered for Vice President of the United States

    July 7, 2009 08:07 am at 8:07 am |
  13. Sean in DC

    Uh, no... you're a quitter.

    July 7, 2009 08:08 am at 8:08 am |
  14. Kevin

    You're right, Sarah – you're not a quitter. You are just a self-indulgent celebrity wannabe with about as much substance as a bowl of air. Go away. Please.

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

    Quitter = To give up. Yep, it sure sounds like Palin to me.

    July 7, 2009 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  16. Mike

    God help the GOP if this dope runs for president. We need fresh blood and a true leader not a token to pander to special interest groups. If this country does not start picking the best and brightest based on their merits alone we as a country are doomed.

    July 7, 2009 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  17. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Who cares what she considers herself. She's not quealified for national office.

    July 7, 2009 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  18. Jon Schmidt

    Mrs. Palin could use a dictionary. She is, by very definition, a quitter.

    1. One who quits.

    1. to stop, cease, or discontinue: She quit what she was doing to help me paint the house.

    2. to depart from; leave (a place or person): They quit the city for the seashore every summer.

    3. to give up or resign; let go; relinquish: He quit his claim to the throne. She quit her job.

    July 7, 2009 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  19. terry

    Palin has proved she has neither the stomach, brains or backbone for big league politics...if she thought the 2008 campaign and fallout was rough, let her run from president...every skeleton, misdemeanor, off handed remark she ever uttered will be hunted down and put on display.. playng in this arena is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for want-to-be's..She has bailed on the Alaskan people, plain and simple. It begs the question, would she do the same to the rest of us, if she were elected?

    July 7, 2009 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  20. Splat!~

    Thank You Mr. Letterman!~

    That was too easy!~

    Hey Mitt, Mormons aren't real Christians, you gonna quit too?!~

    July 7, 2009 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  21. Jeff

    If Palin got elected president, would she quit mid way through her term? Well, I don't think, and sincerely hope, we will never have to worry about that scenario.

    July 7, 2009 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  22. Nick

    This woman is a quitter, democrats will use this to destroy her in 2012 if she runs. The woman is a joke. If the GOP really wants to take back the white house, they need to get someone smarter.

    July 7, 2009 08:11 am at 8:11 am |
  23. Respect

    This woman is cucko for cocoa puffs!

    July 7, 2009 08:12 am at 8:12 am |
  24. SRB

    If it smells like a rat, look like a rat then it is a rat. And if she quit 16 months before her term was up she quit, plain and simple. People she was elected by the residents of her state to perform a task, the highest task of each state and she got up and quit. You can say what you want but if anyone else had done what she had done they would be labled the same. "Quitter". How would she handle the media if she desided to run for the highest and not the second highest offine ?? I think this is best for her and our party that we now know she can't handle the limelite.

    July 7, 2009 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
  25. howie

    Way to go Palin, do what is right for you. All the democrats are going to run scared. Just watch at all the liberals who are going to start neative comments. You have many, many americans behind you.

    July 7, 2009 08:13 am at 8:13 am |
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