Governor Sarah Palin: A Long Goodbye

July 24, 2009 9:34 a.m.

On Sunday, July 26, Sarah Palin’s resignation becomes effective, ending her two-year stint as governor of Alaska. To commemorate the end of a political era, TPM takes a look at some of her most memorable moments as VP candidate and AK governor. In 1984, Palin, then Sarah Heath, was crowned as Miss Wasilla.

Newscom / Anchorage Daily News / MCT

Palin was sworn in as Alaska’s governor on December 4, 2006. Palin had previously served as the chairwoman and ethics supervisor of Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which oversees drilling and production. Ironically, Palin, who has seen her fair share of ethics allegations as governor, stepped down from that post after alleging that Randy Ruedrich, a fellow oil commissioner, was guilty of conducting political business on state time.

Palin helps out with 2007’s “Bye Bye Birdie” eagle release program for the Anchorage Bird Treatment and Learning Center.

Palin stands with Haines Mayor Jan Hill and John Orr, the grandfather of a soldier killed in Iraq, in front of a Hummer H3 detailed to honor fallen Marines. “The rolling memorial is a humbling reminder – to us all – of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our freedom,” Palin said at the Hummer’s unveiling.

From left to right: U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, Sarah Palin, USPS Alaska District Manager Dianne Horbochuk, and photographer Jeff Schultz admire a stamp honoring Alaska.

Palin, whose hunting experience endeared her to social conservatives during the 2008 campaign, has been a lifelong member of the NRA.


Palin at an ice sculpture competition in Fairbanks, Alaska.

On August 29, 2008, presidential candidate John McCain introduced Palin as his running mate in Dayton, Ohio. In her first speech to the nation, she infamously claimed that she told Congress “Thanks, but no thanks” on Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere, a claim that later was shown to be patently untrue.

Newscom / Doral Chenoweth III / Rapport Press

Palin and her husband Todd don flight suits in preparation for their participation in an Air Force training exercise over Alaska.

On September 3, 2008, Palin delivered an energetic speech to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she introduced herself as “just your average hockey mom.”

Newscom / Scott J. Ferrell / Congressional Quarterly

Palin’s speech to the GOP convention included this dig at then-candidate Obama: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities.”

Newscom / Ramin Talaie

Palin’s family couldn’t avoid becoming characters in the drama that was last year’s election. From left to right: Track (named after, well, a track), Bristol (named after Bristol Bay), Bristol’s boyfriend Levi Johnston, Willow (named after a town in Alaska), Piper (just “a cool name“), Palin’s husband Todd, and baby Trig (which is Norse for “strength”). John McCain and Sarah Palin stand to the side.

Newscom / UPI /Roger L. Wollenberg

Governor Palin answers questions from students at Hunter Elementary in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Governor Palin and ExxonMobil executive Craig Haymes discuss plans for a new drilling rig in Point Thomson, Alaska.

Palin speaks before state leaders and Marge Byrd of the Stikine Native Dancers (in regalia).

Palin visits soldiers from the Alaska National Guard stationed in Kuwait.

The McCain campaign’s roll-out of Palin didn’t go as smoothly as they had hoped. During a much-hyped interview with CBS’s Katie Couric, a visibly nervous Palin frequently stumbled over her answers. To wit: in a response to a question about the government’s bank bailout, Palin answered, in part: “Ultimately, what the bailout does is help those who are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy. Um, helping, oh — it’s got to be all about job creation too. Shoring up our economy, and putting it back on the right track. So healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reining in spending has got to accompany tax reductions, and tax relief for Americans, and trade, we’ve got to see trade as opportunity, not as a competitive, um, scary thing, but 1 in 5 jobs being created in the trade sector today. We’ve got to look at that as more opportunity. All of those things under the umbrella of job creation. This bailout is a part of that.”

CBS News

Tina Fey and Amy Poehler portray Palin and Hillary Clinton on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. Palin’s folksy mannerisms and habitual bumbling made her popular fodder for late night television. Fey, who left SNL in 2006, returned to the show to portray her.

Newscom / Dana Edelson / NBC / MCT

Aided by a fresh round of media training, Palin was all smiles and winks during her debate with Biden.


Some raved over the new act; The National Review‘s Rich Lowry gushed that Palin’s perky performance “sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America.”


During the presidential campaign’s home stretch, when the McCain-Palin ticket was down in the polls, Palin resorted to increasingly desperate attacks. Referring to her opponent’s relationship to former Weatherman Bill Ayers, Palin accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists” in a speech to supporters in California.


After the incoming election night results made it clear that McCain and Palin would lose, Palin planned to give her own concession speech to the ticket’s disappointed followers. Despite there being no tradition of an address being delivered by a losing vice presidential candidate, a speech was written. After Palin refused to listen to McCain advisors Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, who didn’t like the idea of Palin’s breaking custom, McCain himself had to tell Palin that only he, and not she, would be speaking that night.

Newscom / Giulio Marcocchi / SIPA

Even after the election, Palin couldn’t catch a break. On November 20, a chipper Palin gave an interview to an Alaskan television station while standing in front of a man slaughtering a turkey. The incident soon became a cable news and YouTube sensation.

Newscom / Marc Lester / Anchorage Daily News / MCT

On July 3, Palin announced that she would step down as Alaska’s governor, saying that she was not seeking re-election, did not want to be lame duck governor and that “only dead fish go with the flow.” Read the full text of Palin’s resignation speech here.

After signaling her intention to resign as governor, Palin, along with her family, spent time fishing on Bristol Bay.


Farewell, Governor Palin. You may be leaving elected office for the moment, but we look forward to your future appearances on the national political stage — and more of your trademark Alaskan flair.

Newscom / Stephen Nowers / Anchorage Daily News/MCT

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