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Mrs. McLeod said she became friends with Mrs. Palin in 2002 and later grew disillusioned when, in Mrs. McLeod’s view, Mrs. Palin did not live up to her ethics-in-office promises.

Mrs. McLeod said Mrs. Palin, before and during her campaign for vice president, used her gubernatorial communications staff to promote herself at state government expense rather than to promote Alaska. Regardless of whether elected officials in both parties do it, she said, “A rule is a rule, and politicians and their staff who violate a rule get punished. Why should Sarah Palin be any different?”

Another friend turned critic, Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich, said Mrs. Palin worked assiduously with Democrats in the Legislature.

“Her Alaskan Democrat allies stood for rapid government growth, increased government spending and taxing energy to the maximum and definitely did not stand for limited government, spending restraint, strong national defense and energy independence,” said Mr. Ruedrich, who described himself as an early mentor to Mrs. Palin.

The mention of Mr. Ruedrich’s name seemed to chill the atmosphere of the interview with the governor.

Even dealing with the political maelstrom she unleashed, Mrs. Palin flashed the down-home, personal touch that even critics say helped her forge an extraordinary bond with supporters on the campaign trail.

When a photographer prepared to take pictures of the interview, Mrs. Palin, wearing open-toed shoes, said laughingly, “Don’t get my toes in the picture — they are green on the bottom.”

Indeed they were. She said the marks were grass stains from mowing her lawn the previous day.