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EXCLUSIVE: Palin to stump for conservative Democrats
ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Brushing aside the criticisms of pundits and politicos, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said she plans to jump immediately back into the national political fray — stumping for conservative issues and even Democrats — after she prematurely vacates her elected post at month’s end.
The former Republican vice-presidential nominee and heroine to much of the GOP’s base said in an interview she views the electorate as embattled and fatigued by nonstop partisanship, and she is eager to campaign for Republicans, independents and even Democrats who share her values on limited government, strong defense and “energy independence.”
“I will go around the country on behalf of candidates who believe in the right things, regardless of their party label or affiliation,” she said over lunch in her downtown office, 40 miles from her now-famous hometown of Wasilla — population 7,000 — where she began her political career.
“People are so tired of the partisan stuff — even my own son is not a Republican,” said Mrs. Palin, who stunned the political world earlier this month with her decision to step down as governor July 26 with 18 months left in her term.
Both her son, Track, 20, an enlisted soldier serving in Iraq, and her husband, Todd, are registered as “nonpartisan” in Alaska.
Mrs. Palin, who vaulted to national prominence when Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, chose her as his running mate last August, left the door open for a future presidential bid.
But she shot down speculation among Republicans that she might challenge incumbent Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski for the party’s nomination to the Senate next year, and she blamed her resignation as governor on the nasty, hardball tactics that last year’s presidential campaign brought to her state.
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“I’m not ruling out anything — it is the way I have lived my life from the youngest age,” she said. “Let me peek out there and see if there’s an open door somewhere. And if there’s even a little crack of light, I’ll hope to plow through it.”
Mrs. Palin did not name any candidates for whom she might campaign. Indeed, whether the polarizing Alaskan would be welcome on the campaign circuit is an open question. Republicans running in statewide races in Virginia and New Jersey — the only states with gubernatorial races in November — have offered only lukewarm responses when asked whether Mrs. Palin is welcome to campaign there.
“We don’t have any plans on having her in” to stump for gubernatorial hopeful Chris Christie, the Associated Press was told by New Jersey Republican Party Chairman Jay Webber late last week. “We’re busy working to get Chris Christie elected and telling people about the failed record of [Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat].”
But Texas Gov. Rick Perry has said he would welcome Mrs. Palin at his side in the tight primary fight he faces with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.
While analysts and fellow politicians continue to debate the wisdom of her decision to resign, Mrs. Palin said she is eager to fight for her conservative beliefs when she leaves office.
The governor, 45, said she shared former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s view that Republicans, now trailing Democrats and independents in registration in many states, should back moderate to conservative Democrats in congressional districts and states where Republicans stand almost no chance of winning.
About the Author
Chief political writer Ralph Z. Hallow served on the Chicago Tribune, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Washington Times editorial boards, was Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University, resident at Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar and has filed from Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Belgrade, Bucharest, Panama and Guatemala.
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