- The Washington Times - Friday, July 3, 2009

Republican Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska announced Friday that she will resign her office July 26, fueling speculation that she intends to spend the next four years pursuing her party’s presidential nomination in 2012.

Mrs. Palin made her stunning announcement at her Wasilla home with Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who will be sworn into office at the end of the month, she said. She did not take questions from reporters and only cryptically referred to her future plans.

In her announcement, she said it “hurts to make this choice,” but compared herself to a point guard in basketball.

“A good point guard knows exactly when to pass the ball so the team can win,” she said. “I know when it is time to pass the ball for victory.” She added the decision to step down had been “in the works for a while.”

Mrs. Palin issued a statement through her office explaining why she decided not to serve out her term, which ends in December 2010, and to step down abruptly.

“Once I decided not to run for re-election, I also felt that to embrace the conventional lame-duck status in this particular climate would just be another dose of politics as usual, something I campaigned against and will always oppose,” she said.

Democrats portrayed the decision as following a pattern of “bizarre behavior” coming from the Alaska governor.

“Either Sarah Palin is leaving the people of Alaska high and dry to pursue her long shot national political ambitions or she simply can’t handle the job now that her popularity has dimmed and oil revenues are down,” said DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan.

After a lengthy recital of her achievements as governor, Mrs. Palin Friday bemoaned the amount of time and resources she had to devote to personal legal battles and overcoming negative press coverage.

“You are naive if you don’t see a full-court press on a national level, picking apart a good point guard,” she said, appealing to Alaskans, “All I can ask is that you trust me with this decision.”

Mrs. Palin remains one of her party’s most charismatic figures and one of its most sought-after speakers since she burst onto the political scene last year when Arizona Sen. John McCain chose her to be his vice presidential running mate.

She proved a potent draw among the Republican faithful, but her choice was also criticized by some.

Since then, she has remained popular with the grassroots of her party, especially among social conservatives, though lately she has come under sharp attack from some of Mr. McCain’s top campaign aides as someone who was not ready for the rough-and-tumble of national politics and contributed to the Arizona senator’s defeat last November.

She has undergone a gauntlet of ethics investigations sought by state Democrats in the past few months, though all charges to date have been dismissed.

Her decision to step down as governor follows the announcement June 2 by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota not to run for a third term. Mr. Pawlenty is also mentioned as a possible candidate for president in 2012.

While not detailing her plans. Mrs. Palin has been building up her political warchest in recent days, even as speculation over her political future mounted.

The Anchorage Daily News reported earlier this week that SarahPAC, the governor’s political action campaign, sent out an e-mail seeking new contributions from supporters, in part to boost Mrs. Palin’s fund-raising totals ahead of the June 30 reporting deadline to the Federal Election Commission.

“With your help, we can take the governor’s message and encourage others who also have hope and are firmly rooted in the conservative belief that you know best how to spend your money and not government,” wrote SarahPAC spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton in the e-mail solicitation.

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