ENG: Sarah Louise Palin (née Heath; born February 11, 1964) is an American politician, commentator and author who served as the 9th Governor of Alaska, from 2006 to 2009. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election alongside Arizona Senator John McCain, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice presidency. Her book Going Rogue has sold more than two million copies. Since January 2010, she has provided political commentary for Fox News, and hosted a television show, Sarah Palin's Alaska. Five million viewers tuned in for the first episode, a record for TLC.
She was elected to Wasilla City Council in 1992 and became mayor of Wasilla in 1996. In 2003, after an unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor, she was appointed Chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, responsible for overseeing the state's oil and gas fields for safety and efficiency.
The youngest person and first woman to be elected Governor of Alaska, Palin held the office from December 2006 until her resignation in July 2009. She has since endorsed and campaigned for the Tea Party movement, as well as several candidates in the 2010 midterm elections. From the time of her Vice Presidential nomination in 2008, Palin was considered a potential candidate for the 2012 presidential election until she announced in October 2011 that she would not run.
Early life and family
Palin was born in Sandpoint, Idaho. She is the third of four children (three daughters, one son) born to Charles R. "Chuck" Heath, a science teacher and track and field coach, and Sarah "Sally" (née Sheeran), a school secretary.
Palin's siblings are Chuck Jr., Heather, and Molly. Palin is of English, Irish, and German ancestry.
When Palin was a few months old, the family moved to Skagway, Alaska, where her father received his teaching job. They relocated to Eagle River in 1969, and finally settled to Wasilla in 1972.
Palin played flute in the junior high band, then attended Wasilla High School where she was the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and a member of the girls' basketball and cross country running teams. During her senior year, she was co-captain and point guard of the basketball team that won the 1982 Alaska state championship, earning the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" for her competitive streak.
After graduating from high school in 1982, Palin enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Shortly after arriving in Hawaii, Palin transferred to Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu for a semester in the fall of 1982, and then to North Idaho College, a community college in Coeur d'Alene, for the spring and fall semesters of 1983.
In June 2008, the Alumni Association of North Idaho College gave Palin its Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award.
In 1984, Palin won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant, then finished third in the Miss Alaska pageant. She played the flute in the talent portion of the contest, and received both the Miss Congeniality award and a college scholarship.
She enrolled at the University of Idaho in Moscow for an academic year, starting in August 1984, then attended Matanuska-Susitna College in Alaska in the fall of 1985. Palin returned to the University of Idaho in January 1986, and received her bachelor's degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism in May 1987.
Early career and marriage
After graduation, she worked as a sportscaster for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage, and as a sports reporter for the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, fulfilling an early ambition.
On August 29, 1988, she eloped at age 24 with her high school sweetheart, Todd Palin.
Following the birth of their first child, in April 1989, she helped in her husband's commercial fishing business.
Governor of Alaska
In 2006, running on a clean-government platform, Palin defeated incumbent Governor Frank Murkowski in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Her running mate was Sean Parnell, who since leaving the state senate in 2001 had worked as a corporate lobbyist.
In the November election, Palin was outspent but victorious, defeating former Democratic governor Tony Knowles by a margin of 48.3% to 40.9%. She became Alaska's first female governor, and, at the age of 42, the youngest governor in Alaskan history, the state's first governor to have been born after Alaska achieved U.S.
statehood, and the first not to be inaugurated in Juneau (she chose to have the ceremony held in Fairbanks instead). She took office on December 4, 2006, and for most of her term was very popular with Alaska voters. Polls taken in 2007 showed her with 93% and 89% popularity among all voters, which led some media outlets to call her "the most popular governor in America." A poll taken in late September 2008 after Palin was named to the national Republican ticket showed her popularity in Alaska at 68%. A poll taken in May 2009 showed Palin's popularity among Alaskans was at 54% positive and 41.6% negative.
Palin declared that top priorities of her administration would be resource development, education and workforce development, public health and safety, and transportation and infrastructure development. She had championed ethics reform throughout her election campaign.
Her first legislative action after taking office was to push for a bipartisan ethics reform bill. She signed the resulting legislation in July 2007, calling it a "first step", and declaring that she remained determined to clean up Alaska politics.
Palin frequently broke with the Alaskan Republican establishment. For example, she endorsed Parnell's bid to unseat the state's longtime at-large U.S. Representative, Don Young, and she publicly challenged then-U.S. Senator Ted Stevens to come clean about the federal investigation into his financial dealings. Shortly before his July 2008 indictment, she held a joint news conference with Stevens, described by The Washington Post as intended to "make clear she had not abandoned him politically."
Palin promoted the development of oil and natural-gas resources in Alaska, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). Proposals to drill for oil in ANWR have occasioned national debate.
In 2006, Palin obtained a passport and in 2007 traveled for the first time outside of North America on a trip to Kuwait. There she visited the Khabari Alawazem Crossing at the Kuwait–Iraq border and met with members of the Alaska National Guard at several bases. On her return journey she visited injured soldiers in Germany.
On July 3, 2009, Palin announced that she would not run for re-election in the 2010 Alaska gubernatorial election and would resign before the end of July. In her announcement, Palin stated that both she and the state had been expending an "insane" amount of time and money ($2.5 million) to address "frivolous" ethics complaints filed against her, and that her decision not to seek reelection would make her a lame duck governor. A Palin aide said Palin was "no longer able to do the job she had been elected to do. Essentially, the taxpayers were paying for Sarah to go to work every day and defend herself." Palin and her husband Todd had personally incurred more than $500,000 in legal fees defending against ethics charges brought against her as governor. Palin transferred the office of governor to Sean Parnell in Fairbanks on July 26, 2009.
An estimated 5,000 people gathered at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks to watch Palin cede her office to Sean Parnell.
In December 2010, new rules governing Alaska executive branch ethics, stemming from Sarah Palin's tenure as governor, took effect. "These include allowing for the state to pay legal costs for officials cleared of ethics violations; (and) allowing for a family member of the governor or lieutenant governor to travel at state cost in certain circumstances . . ."
2008 vice-presidential campaign
Several conservative commentators met Palin in the summer of 2007. Some of them, such as Bill Kristol, later urged McCain to pick Palin as his vice presidential running mate, arguing that her presence on the ticket would provide a boost in enthusiasm among the Religious Right wing of the Republican party, while her status as an unknown on the national scene would also be a positive factor.
On August 24, 2008, during a general strategy meeting, Steve Schmidt, and a few other senior advisers to the McCain Campaign, discussed potential vice presidential picks with the consensus settling around Palin. The following day, the strategists advised McCain of their conclusions and he personally called Palin, who was at the Alaska State Fair.
On August 27, she visited McCain's vacation home near Sedona, Arizona, where she was offered the position of vice-presidential candidate. According to Jill Hazelbaker, a spokeswoman for McCain, he had previously met Palin at the National Governors Association meeting in Washington in February 2008 and had come away "extraordinarily impressed." Palin was the only prospective running mate who had a face-to-face interview with McCain to discuss joining the ticket that week. Nonetheless, Palin's selection was a surprise to many because a main criticism he had of Obama was his lack of experience, and speculation had centered on other candidates, such as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, and former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge. On August 29, in Dayton, Ohio, McCain announced that he had chosen Palin as his running mate.
Palin was the first Alaskan and the second woman to run on a major U.S. party ticket.
Since Palin was largely unknown outside Alaska before her selection by McCain, her personal life, policy positions, and political record drew intense media scrutiny. On September 1, 2008, Palin announced that her daughter Bristol was pregnant and that she would marry the father, Levi Johnston. During this period, some Republicans felt that Palin was being unfairly attacked by the media. Timothy Noah of Slate magazine predicted that Palin's acceptance speech would be "wildly overpraised" and might end speculation that she was unqualified for the job of vice president because the press had been beating her up for "various trivial shortcomings" and had lowered the expectations for her speech. On September 3, 2008, Palin delivered a 40-minute acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention that was well received and watched by more than 40 million people. A Rasmussen poll taken immediately after the Convention found that 51% of Americans believed that the media was "trying to hurt" Palin with negative coverage, and 40% believed Palin to be ready for the Presidency.
During the campaign, controversy erupted over alleged differences between Palin's positions as a gubernatorial candidate and her position as a vice-presidential candidate. After McCain announced Palin as his running mate, Newsweek and Time put Palin on their magazine covers, as some of the media alleged that McCain's campaign was restricting press access to Palin by allowing only three one-on-one interviews and no press conferences with her. Palin's first major interview, with Charles Gibson of ABC News, met with mixed reviews. Her interview five days later with Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity went more smoothly and focused on many of the same questions from Gibson's interview. Palin's performance in her third interview with Katie Couric, of CBS News, was widely criticized; her poll numbers declined, Republicans expressed concern that she was becoming a political liability, and some conservative commentators called for Palin to resign from the Presidential ticket. Other conservatives remained ardent in their support for Palin, accusing the columnists of elitism. Following this interview, some Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Bill Kristol, questioned the McCain campaign's strategy of sheltering Palin from unscripted encounters with the press.
Palin reportedly prepared intensively for the October 2 vice-presidential debate with Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden at Washington University in St. Louis. Some Republicans suggested that Palin's performance in the interviews would improve public perceptions of her debate performance by lowering expectations. Polling from CNN, Fox and CBS found that while Palin exceeded most voters' expectations, they felt that Biden had won the debate.
Upon returning to the campaign trail after her debate preparation, Palin stepped up her attacks on the Democratic candidate for President, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. At a fundraising event, Palin explained her new aggressiveness, saying, "There does come a time when you have to take the gloves off and that time is right now." Palin said that her first amendment right to "call Obama out on his associations" was threatened by "attacks by the mainstream media."
Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" segment on October 18. Prior to her appearance, she had been parodied several times by Tina Fey, who was noted for her physical resemblance to the candidate. In the weeks leading up to the election, Palin was also the subject of amateur parodies posted on YouTube.
Controversy arose after it was reported that the Republican National Committee (RNC) spent $150,000 of campaign contributions on clothing, hair styling, and makeup for Palin and her family in September 2008. Campaign spokespersons stated the clothing would be going to charity after the election. Palin and some media outlets blamed gender bias for the controversy. At the end of the campaign, Palin returned the clothes to the RNC.
The election took place on November 4, and Obama was projected as the winner at 11:00 PM EST. In his concession speech McCain thanked Palin, calling her "one of the best campaigners I've ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength." While aides were preparing the teleprompter for McCain's speech, they found a concession speech written for Palin by George W. Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully. Two members of McCain's staff, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, told Palin that there was no tradition of Election Night speeches by running mates, and that she would not be speaking. Palin appealed to McCain, who agreed with his staff.
After the 2008 election
Palin was the first guest on commentator Glenn Beck's Fox News television show on January 19, 2009, commenting on Barack Obama that he would be her president and that she would assist in any way to bring progress to the nation without abandoning her conservative views.
On January 27, 2009, Palin formed the political action committee, SarahPAC. The organization, which describes itself as an advocate of energy independence, supports candidates for federal and state office. Following her resignation as Governor, Palin announced her intention to campaign "on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation." It was reported that SarahPAC had raised nearly $1,000,000. A legal defense fund was set up to help Palin challenge ethics complaints, and it had collected approximately $250,000 by mid-July 2009. In June 2010, Palin's defense fund was ruled illegal and will have to pay back $386,856 it collected in donations because it used Palin's position as governor to raise money for her personal gain. Palin subsequently set up a new defense fund.
In March 2010, Palin started a show to be aired on TLC called Sarah Palin's Alaska. The show was produced by Mark Burnett. Five million viewers tuned in for the premiere episode, a record for TLC. Palin also secured a segment on Fox News. Two guests that she was shown to have interviewed claimed to have never met her. Guests LL Cool J and Toby Keith stated that footage shown on the segment was actually taken from another interview with someone else, but was used in Palin's segment Fox News and Palin ended their relationship in January 2013.
On December 8, 2010, it was reported that SarahPAC and Palin's personal credit card information were compromised through cyber attacks. Palin's team believed the attack was executed by Anonymous during Operation Payback. The report was met with skepticism in the blogosphere. Palin's email had been hacked once before in 2008.
In August 2009, she coined the phrase "death panel", to describe health care reform. She stated that it would require Americans such as her parents or her child with Down syndrome, "to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care." The phrase was criticized by many on both sides of the political aisle and Politifact named it the "Lie of the Year of 2009"
Palin will not be a speaker at the Republican National Convention in August 2012 in Tampa, Florida. She didn't say whether she will attend the convention.
Sarah and Todd Palin have five children: sons Track (born April 1989) and Trig Paxson Van (born April 2008), and daughters Bristol Sheeran Marie (born October 1990), Willow (born 1994), and Piper (born 2001). Palin's youngest child, Trig, was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Palin has two grandchildren, a boy named Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston, who was born to her eldest daughter, Bristol, and her then-fiancee, Levi Johnston, in 2008, and a girl named Kyla Grace Palin, who was born to son Track and his wife, Britta, in 2011. Her husband Todd worked for the British oil company BP as an oil-field production operator, retiring in 2009, and owns a commercial fishing business.
Palin was born into a Roman Catholic family. Later, her family joined the Wasilla Assembly of God, a Pentecostal church, which she attended until 2002. Palin then switched to the Wasilla Bible Church. When in Juneau, she attends the Juneau Christian Center. Palin described herself in an interview as a "Bible-believing Christian."