- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2008

ANCHORAGE, Alaska | Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is juggling offers to write books, appear in films and sit on dozens of interview couches at a rate astonishing for most Hollywood stars, let alone a first-term governor.

Oprah Winfrey wants her. So do David Letterman and Jay Leno.

The Republican vice-presidential candidate crunched state budget numbers last week in her 17th-floor office as tumbling oil prices hit Alaska’s revenues. Her staff, meanwhile, fielded television requests seeking the 44-year-old Mrs. Palin for late-night banter and Sunday morning Washington policy.

Agents from the William Morris Agency and elsewhere have come knocking. There even has been an offer to host a TV show.

“Tomorrow, Governor Palin could do an interview with any news media on the planet,” said her spokesman, Bill McAllister. “Tomorrow, she could probably sign any one of a dozen book deals. She could start talking to people about a documentary or a movie on her life. That’s the level we are at here.”

“Barbara Walters called me. George Stephanopoulos called me,” Mr. McAllister said. “I’ve had multiple conversations with producers for Oprah, Letterman, Leno and ‘The Daily Show.’ ”

Asked whether Miss Winfrey was pursuing Mrs. Palin for a sit-down, Michelle McIntyre, a spokeswoman for Chicago-based Harpo Productions Inc., said she was “unable to confirm any future plans” for the show.

Mrs. Palin may have emerged from the campaign politically wounded by questions about her preparedness for higher office, but she has returned to Alaska with an expanded, if unofficial, title: international celebrity.

Sen. John McCain plucked Mrs. Palin out of relative obscurity in late August and put her on the national Republican ticket. Now, she has to decide how and where to spend her time, which could have implications for her political future and her bank account, with possible land mines of legal and ethical rules.

Mrs. Palin is considering about 800 requests for appearances from December through 2009, with 75 percent coming from out of state. A year ago, just a sprinkle of requests came from beyond Alaska’s borders. They range from invitations to speak at the Chief Executives’ Club of Boston to attend a 5-year-old’s birthday party, and from a prayer breakfast in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to a business conference in Britain.

Now she has invitations to make appearances in 20 foreign countries, typically with all expenses paid, Mr. McAllister said. She has more than 200 requests for media interviews, again from around the globe.

“She has to pace herself,” suggested veteran Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. “She wants a career made in a Crock-Pot, not a microwave.”

In her two months on the national stage, Mrs. Palin energized the Republican base but turned off moderates and independents, according to polls. The right book or movie deal could help Mrs. Palin reintroduce herself to the nation on her own terms.

Mrs. Palin has sent unmistakable signals she is open to running for president in 2012, but that requires both that she stays in the public eye in the contiguous 48 states and serves out the remaining two years of her term as governor.

“She has to deal with the perception that she bobbled her debut,” said Claremont McKenna College political scientist John Pitney. “She needs to stay home for a while. If she wants a future in national politics, her No. 1 job is doing a good job as governor.”

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