Palin, who became a national political figure last year after she became the
Republicans’ vice presidential candidate, has said little of what her life
will be like as a private citizen. She is scheduled to speak on 8 August at
the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, and has said she plans
to write a book, campaign for political candidates from coast to coast and
build a right-of-center coalition.
“Wrapped up Anch Gov’s Picnic, awesome,” she wrote in a message posted
Saturday, after an appearance in Anchorage. “Now road trip to Fairbanks for
farewell speech/changing of the guard. Camper full of kids & coffee.”
Friend and foe alike have speculated that Palin may host a radio or TV show,
or launch a lucrative speaking career. Her political action committee,
SarahPAC, has raised more than $1 million, said Meghan Stapleton, a
spokeswoman for the committee and the Palin family.
Stapleton disputed the notion that Palin is running for president in 2012 or
has media deals lined up.
“I cannot express enough there is no plan after July 26. There is absolutely
no plan,” she told The Associated Press. “The decision (to quit) was made in
the vacuum of what was best for Alaska, and now I’m accepting all the
options, but there is nothing planned.”
Palin’s surprise announcement July 3 that she was stepping down as Alaska
governor 17 months before the end of her first term pushed her favorability
rating down to 40 percent, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll.
Fifty-three percent of those polled gave her an unfavorable rating.
Last summer, almost six in 10 Americans viewed her favorably.
Palin will hand over the governor’s office to Lt. Gov Sean Parnell at a Sunday
afternoon picnic at a Fairbanks park. Parnell, 46, of Anchorage, has
promised to push many of Palin’s initiatives, including controversial terms
to build a natural gas pipeline.
“Sean knows he has big high heels to fill,” said Mark Lewis, moderator of a
farewell picnic hosted by Palin on Saturday in Anchorage, the state’s
Parnell acknowledged he is likely to draw less attention than Palin, whose
near celebrity status threatened at times to overwhelm her administration.
He called Palin “a good, honorable and decent human being who loves Alaska.”
Critics have accused Palin of failing to pay attention to the details of
governing and say she has aggrandized herself at the state’s expense.
Supporters ? and there are many in the state and throughout the country ?
defend Palin as an outstanding leader with a strong Christian faith and
unquestioned devotion to family.
Wilson Villanueva, 38, of Palmer, Alaska, attended one of Palin’s farewell
picnics in her hometown of Wasilla and disputed the idea that she was
quitting because she was bored or unhappy in her job. He thinks she is
stepping down for a “a greater purpose ? to save taxpayers the burden” of
defending herself against nearly 20 ethics complaints, including allegations
she traded on her position as she sought money for lawyer fees.
Palin cited the financial toll of the investigations for quitting before the
end of her term.
“She’s not a quitter; she’s a fighter. She wants to fight for the Alaskan
people and for the greater good nationally,” Villanueva said.
Randy Jedlicka, 31 of Anchorage, was less impressed.
He held up a sign at the Anchorage picnic asking why, if Palin can quit before
her terms ends, soldiers in Iraq cannot do the same.
“I just don’t think it’s fair,” said Jedlicka, a former sailor who served in
the Persian Gulf in the mid-1990s. “A lot of vets want to quit, but they
Alaska’s first female governor arrived at the state Capitol in December 2006
on an ethics reform platform after defeating two former governors in the
primary and general elections. Her prior political experience consisted of
terms as Wasilla’s mayor and councilwoman and a stint as head of the Alaska
Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Unknown on the national stage until Sen. John McCain tapped her as his running
mate, Palin infused excitement into the Republican’s presidential bid. But
she also became the butt of talk-show jokes and Democratic criticism,
targeted at news that the Republican Party had spent $150,000 or more on a
designer wardrobe and what some considered poor performances by the Alaska
governor in television interviews.
Former state House Speaker John Harris, a Republican with sometimes chilly
relations with Palin, said he respects her decision to resign.
“I think she decided out of respect for her family ? and especially her
children ? the attacks were not going to end until she left office,” Harris
Palin’s future is whatever she wants it to be, Harris added. Palin will be “a
spokeswoman for ideals and ideas that she believes in ? more conservative
government, natural resource development ? and she’s going to focus her
energy on promoting candidates with similar ideas,” he said.
Harris, who is seeking to challenge Parnell for governor, said he thinks Palin
will run for president in 2012, but said he has no inside information.
Stapleton said the answer will emerge in the coming weeks.
On Monday, “we’ll sit down and say, ‘OK, here are your options. How do you now
want to effect that positive change for Alaska from outside the role as
governor?”‘ Stapleton said.
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