Palin steps down as governor to write book, build a coalition

By Matthew Daly
Associated Press / July 27, 2009

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Sarah Palin stepped down yesterday as Alaska governor to write a book and build a right-of-center coalition, but she left her long-term political plans unclear and refused to address speculation she would seek a 2012 presidential bid.

Her first order of business as a private citizen is to speak Aug. 8 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California. She also wants to campaign for political candidates from coast to coast and continue to speak her mind on the social networking site Twitter.

Free speech was a theme of her farewell address at a crowded picnic in Fairbanks, as the outgoing governor scolded “some seemingly hell bent on tearing down our nation’’ and warned Americans to “be wary of accepting government largess. It doesn’t come free.’’

She also took aim at the media, saying her replacement, Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell, “has a very nice family, too, so leave his kids alone!’’

And she said directly into the television cameras, “How about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?’’

She didn’t elaborate, but Palin said when she announced her resignation July 3 that she was tired of the media focus on her family and felt she had been unfairly treated by reporters.

Friend and foe alike have speculated that Palin may host a radio or TV show, launch a lucrative speaking career, or seek higher office in Washington.

Palin hasn’t ruled out any of those options, and her political action committee, SarahPAC, has raised more than $1 million, said Meghan Stapleton, a spokeswoman for the committee and the Palin family.

Stapleton said Palin is still deciding what her future will be.

“I cannot express enough there is no plan after July 26. There is absolutely no plan,’’ she told the Associated Press.

Palin’s surprise announcement she was stepping down 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 6 in 10 Americans viewed her favorably. The latest poll was taken from July 15-18.

Nearly 20 ethics complaints had been filed against Palin, and the outgoing governor cited the resulting investigation’s financial toll - both on her and the state - for stepping down. An independent investigator looking into the complaints found evidence she may have violated ethics laws by trading on her position as she sought money for lawyer fees, according to a report obtained recently by the Associated Press.

Parnell, 46, of Anchorage was sworn in yesterday as the new governor and has promised to push many of Palin’s initiatives, including controversial terms to build a natural gas pipeline.

Alaska’s first female governor had arrived at the state Capitol in December 2006 on an ethics reform platform after defeating two former governors in the primary and general elections.