Saturday, July 04, 2009

Profile: Sarah Palin!

Sarah Palin: "I'm doing what is best for Alaska"

Controversial US politician Sarah Palin has announced she is stepping down as governor of Alaska in July, again taking the media - and her Republican party - by surprise.

The 45-year-old defeated Republican vice-presidential nominee - whose term of office had not been due to end until 2010 - gave no clear reason for her decision to quit.

It immediately prompted speculation she could be preparing a bid to run for the presidency in 2012.

But the timing of the announcement - ahead of a long holiday week end - prompted others to wonder if she had had enough of politics, or even had something to hide.

Sarah Palin is used to breaking new ground.

In 2006 she became the first woman and the youngest person to be elected Alaska's state governor.

Two years later, when John McCain made her his running mate, she became the first woman to sit on the Republican presidential ticket.

Mr McCain described Sarah Palin as "someone with strong principles, a fighting spirit and deep compassion".

And initially she helped reinvigorate his campaign.

The mother-of-five appealed strongly to women and her party's conservative base. Her energetic, down-to-earth style helped rally support behind him.

But she faced tough criticism over her lack of experience - something exacerbated by a series of gaffes.

Sarah Palin - a former local beauty queen - graduated from the University of Idaho in 1987, having studied journalism and political science.

John McCain and Sarah Palin in Dayton, Ohio, 29 Aug
I didn't get into government to do the safe and easy things
Sarah Palin

Married for 20 years, she gave birth to her fifth child in April - a son who has Downs Syndrome. Her eldest son is serving with the US military in Iraq.

Before being elected Alaska state governor, she served on the city council of Wasilla, which is outside Anchorage, and was its mayor from 1996 to 2002.

Speaking alongside Mr McCain after he presented her as his running mate, Mrs Palin described herself as having been "just an average hockey mom in Alaska" before becoming involved in politics.

She said her career had always been driven by her desire to "put the people first".

As governor she had signed ethics reforms, reached across the aisle to Democrats and independents and endeavoured to cut wasteful spending, she said.

An opponent of abortion and a life member of the National Rifle Association, Sarah Palin re-energised the party's conservative base with a strong performance at the Republican National Convention.

But the McCain campaign was soon accused of failing to vet her adequately.

The news of her unmarried 17-year-old daughter's pregnancy dominated the opening days of the convention.

Mrs Palin was also revealed to be under investigation by state lawmakers over alleged abuse of power.

She was accused of violating ethics rules when she fired the state's top law enforcement official, allegedly because he refused to sack her former brother-in-law. Mrs Palin denies any wrongdoing.

Analysts, meanwhile, expressed concern about her lack of experience on the national or international stage.

She had travelled little overseas, having made trips to Canada and to Kuwait and Germany, where she visited US troops.

Gaffe-filled interviews were seized on by critics as reasons why she was not up to the job.

In one she cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as evidence of her foreign policy credentials, in another she appeared unsure of what constituted the vice-president's role.

Comedians mocked her on prime time television and some members of her own party rounded on her.

Her rallies, nonetheless, continued to attract large crowds of Republican supporters.

And in the wake of the election, she emerged as one of the party's most recognisable faces.

A recent survey by Newsweek magazine has named her as a leading candidate for the party's nomination in 2012.

The McCain-Palin ticket proved ultimately unsuccessful, but many believe there may be more to come from Sarah Palin.

"We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country," John McCain said as he conceded the election.

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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