KOTZEBUE, Alaska — Sarah Palin says she’s not a quitter, she’s a fighter, but adds that, politically speaking, “If I die, I die. So be it.”
Sporting fishing waders, a pony tail and a French manicure, Palin defended her decision to resign as Alaska governor in half a dozen interviews broadcast and published this morning. The former vice presidential candidate invited media outlets to Dillingham, an Alaska town of about 2,500, where she was fishing with her husband, Todd, and children.
Palin wouldn’t rule out a 2012 presidential run, and told CNN that “all options are on the table” for her future.
“I don’t know what doors will be open or closed by then,” the Republican told Time magazine. “I was telling Todd today, I was saying, ‘Man, I wish we could predict the next fish run so that we know when to be out on the water.’ We can’t predict the next fish run, much less what’s going to happen in 2012.”
But she told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she recognizes she might not have political staying power after her surprise resignation Friday, which came just as she had been expected to elevate her national profile ahead of a possible 2012 GOP presidential run.
“I said before … ‘You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it,”’ she said.
“I’m not going to take the comfortable path. I’m going to take the right path for the state,” she said of her resignation, which she characterized as a matter of progressing in an unconventional way.
“That caught people off guard. … It’s out of the box and unconventional. That’s what we are as Alaskans and certainly how I am as a public servant.”
Palin criticized President Barack Obama, a possible sign she’s looking toward the 2012 presidential race.
“President Obama is growing government outrageously, and it’s immoral and it’s uneconomic, his plan that he tries to sell America,” Palin told Time. “His plan to ‘put America on the right track’ economically, incurring the debt that our nation is incurring, trillions of dollars that we’re passing on to our kids, expecting them to pay off for us, is immoral and doesn’t even make economic sense.”
The outgoing Alaska governor told the Anchorage Daily News she stepped down because ethics complaints against her and her squabble with lawmakers would have paralyzed the 18 months she had left in office.
“Especially when all these lawmakers are lining up for office,” she said. “Their desire would be to clobber the administration left and right so that they can position themselves for office. I’m not going to put Alaskans through that.”
She told the paper she believes her replacement, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who will take office on July 26, will diffuse the controversy that surrounds her.
“With Sean in the governor’s seat, it won’t be the politics of personal destruction, I don’t believe,” Palin said.
Palin has spent the past four days with her family, but she returned to work as Alaska governor today in the remote fishing village 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
Palin was scheduled to sign a bill designed to bring public safety officers to small towns. Kotzebue, a town of about 3,000 people, is 550 miles northwest of Anchorage and lies on a spit of sand at the end of a peninsula.
There has been speculation that she has some legal issue that is not yet known to the public. But her lawyer told The Associated Press on Monday that she has no legal problems whatsoever, and simply is tired of the hostile political climate, legal bills and other distractions.
“She is leaving now because I think she believes that she has become the issue, rightly or wrongly, with all these ethics complaints and with the issues involving the Legislature, the combativeness they’ve been demonstrating toward her since she returned from the campaign,” Thomas Van Flein said.
“I think she believes it’s in the best interest of the state to progress forward, for her to move on to other issues.”
Palin has become a lightning rod for partisan politics in Alaska since her return from the 2008 presidential campaign after John McCain selected her as his running mate for the GOP ticket. She has racked up an estimated $500,000 in legal bills defending the flurry of ethics complaints, including one filed Monday that alleges she is violating ethics law by taking per diem payments when she stays in her Wasilla home instead of the governor’s mansion in Juneau.
In addition, her relationship with Democrats in the state Senate — once among her staunchest allies — deteriorated in the last session.
At the state Capitol in Juneau, the “Time to Make a Difference” clock that counted the time left in Palin’s term was taken down from the wall outside her office. And people from around the country called up her office to inquire about the situation, as did a few cruise ship tourists who made the trek to the Capitol.