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. Vanessa

    If she can't handle the pressure of being a governor, what makes her think she can be president?

    July 7, 2009 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  2. Larry from RI

    Um, yes you are a quitter – you quit didn't you?
    Or do you prefer a more Bush-like term?
    Something like "the resigner" perhaps?

    July 7, 2009 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  3. We Love Sarah

    I'm not quitting either. I am just not doing the job that I asked the people to let me do.

    If this nut-job thinks that the public is vicious now, wait until she tries to become President.

    The worst thing is that there are plenty of kooks in America that will vote for this weak excuse of a leader.

    Maybe she will want to take me to court now?

    July 7, 2009 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  4. Jason

    Blah, blah, blah....She must have a completely different definition of 'quitter' than everyone else in this world. She's quit every political office she's held....city council, mayor, Lt. Govenor, and Govenor. Go away in to obscurity already and take your illusions of grandure with you.

    July 7, 2009 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  5. Brian

    By her reasoning every polotician should quit when the going gets tough, or they can't get anything done.

    July 7, 2009 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  6. Common Sense

    Seriously Palin. Shut it, we are tired of your moaning and crying when you don't get your way.

    I've never seen a grown woman cry so much for things she should have simply fly by with little effect.

    She quit. She's a quitter. You can't quit without being a quitter.

    Yay. It's kindergarden common sense.

    July 7, 2009 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  7. beth

    No more face time for this hillbilly harpie, please!

    July 7, 2009 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  8. Rosa, b'ham al

    She is just confused .

    July 7, 2009 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  9. William

    Let me try to make sense of this. Gov. Palin is not a quitter but she is quitting her job. She is a fighter but does not fight all the accusations. She is overburned as a governor yet is thought to want to be the president of an entire country. Am I missing something, or what...

    July 7, 2009 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  10. Bob

    Even GOP strategist's have said she has quit every job she has ever had. If that isn't the sign of a quitter I don't know what is.

    July 7, 2009 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  11. Kevin in Ohio

    Let the left-wing hate mongers begin their vitriol.......

    July 7, 2009 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  12. Mike

    She is a strong conservative and would make a great president. Face it, anyone would be better than the tax and spend obama.

    July 7, 2009 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  13. Brent

    Rambling resignation speech? Maybe she should use a teleprompter.

    Obama, will teleprompters become standard on GM cars?

    July 7, 2009 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  14. Patti

    "I'm a fighter so I quit so I could fight." Get it?

    July 7, 2009 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  15. Lowell

    Uh, you quit. You're a quitter.

    Things didn't go your way, you quit. That means you're a quitter.

    What about this do you not understand?

    July 7, 2009 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  16. Indy in PA

    OK, it was fun to make fun of Palin for a few days and believe me I did my share, but isn't it time to let it go? It's getting almost as grotesque as the 24/7 Michael Jackson ghoulishness. The woman quit, game over, move on and let her and all of us who don't particularly care what she does next do the same. There are much, much bigger stories out there. What's happening with Iran? How do we stand on health care? PLEASE talk about something that could actually affect our lives for a change!!!

    July 7, 2009 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  17. Get Real

    In 2008 when asked about Hilliary Clinton's on complaining about HER treatment by the media, Suing Sarah said:

    "I say this with all due respect to Hillary Clinton…but when I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or you know maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think you know that doesn’t do us any good – women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country."

    So it is ok for her to quit over a Letterman joke, but Hillary should just stop whining. Can ANY of her supporters see the hypocrisy?

    I hope CNN will publish this as it needs to be seen and Suing Sarah SHOULD be asked about this.

    July 7, 2009 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  18. Concerned about immaturity

    I agree she is not a quitter. She only needs to grow up since every time she says something it looks like those words are coming from a teenager.

    July 7, 2009 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Please go away .

    July 7, 2009 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  20. Florida Joe

    First she doesn’t know what the Bush doctrine is, now she doesn’t know the meaning of QUITTER………How many colleges did she go to to get that degree?
    Money well spent……..NOT
    Take away the cameras and maybe she will go away!!

    July 7, 2009 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  21. todd

    Get real Sarah, you did quit no putting a spin on it. If you can't handle a State how are going to handle running a country when the pressure is worst 24 hours a day.

    July 7, 2009 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  22. The Party of NO stood calmly by for 8 year while the shrub raped and pillaged America, so, why would we listen to you now?

    "one that quits ; especially : one that gives up too easily"

    Spin it however, you want twit, but here is the definition of "quitter" straight from Websters.

    And you are the very definition of quitter, and only those neo-cons that share that parallel universe in which you exist will agree with you.

    Too bad, I did want you to run in 2012, you betcha'!

    July 7, 2009 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  23. henry dangote

    I am just waiting for the day this lady will take responsibility for her actions and stop blaming somebody else.

    July 7, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  24. Tarheel

    I love the way Sarah Palin can work the left-wing nuts in a "foam at the mouth frenzy" just by mentioning her name.They will have a fit when it's President Palin they're talking about. Get used to it.

    July 7, 2009 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  25. Margi

    Yes Sarah, you are a quitter. You can dish out a lot of nonsense but you can't take it. Quitter.

    July 7, 2009 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
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