Gov. Sarah Palin blames the Bush administration for the failure of the McCain-Palin ticket, thinks people need to move on from the so-called "Troopergate" controversy and has no regrets about state per diem for time spent at her home in Wasilla or state-funded travel for her children.
Palin also said she loved her time in the national spotlight and won't rule out a run for president or vice president in 2012.
Those were some of Palin's responses to questions posed Sunday afternoon in a wide-ranging interview with the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2 at the governor's Wasilla home.
Despite the defeat of the Republican ticket at the polls Nov. 4, Palin remains a national media obsession: Greta Van Susteren of Fox News had just finished an interview with her Sunday and was chatting with the governor and her husband in the kitchen. Moose chili cooked in the crock pot and moose hot dogs lay on the table. Palin insisted they weren't a prop for the national media but just how the family likes to dine.
Seven-year-old Piper Palin walked around with an apron and a notebook, asking people what they wanted to drink. Outside, an "Entertainment Tonight" crew waited, hoping without success that the governor would grant them an interview.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Q. Why do you think your campaign lost?
A. I think the Republican ticket represented too much of the status quo, too much of what had gone on in these last eight years, that Americans were kind of shaking their heads like going, wait a minute, how did we run up a 10 trillion dollar debt in a Republican administration? How have there been blunders with war strategy under a Republican administration? If we're talking change, we want to get far away from what it was that the present administration represented and that is to a great degree what the Republican Party at the time had been representing. So people desiring change I think went as far from the administration that is presently seated as they could. It's amazing that we did as well as we did.
Q. There's been an enormous amount of information about you that Alaskans have been exposed to the past couple of months -- and lots of it very critical. What are Alaskans supposed to make of all this?
A. Regarding information regarding my record, that is now out there, much of it that was based on misinformation was a very, very frustrating thing to have to go through when the record was never corrected. And we would try to correct the record and too many in the media chose not to make those corrections. ! Q. What misinformation are you talking about?
A. Some of the goofy things like who was Trig's mom. Well, I'm Trig's mom (raises her hand) and do you want to see my medical records to prove that? ... And banning books. That was a ridiculous thing also that could have so easily been corrected just by a reporter taking an extra step and not basing a report on gossip or speculation. But just looking into the record. It was reported that I tried to ban Harry Potter when it hadn't even been written when I was the mayor. So, gosh, we have so many examples, I mean every day, especially the first few weeks, every day something that was thrown out there.
Q. One of the things that came up during the campaign is that you charge the state per diem for time spent here in Wasilla. Is that something you are going to continue to do?
A. We've always followed the law and fully disclosed all that. The choice there in many months of the Juneau mansion being re-plumbed and all the improvements being made in the infrastructure of the Juneau house, where we weren't going to be there anyway. Knowing that in the end it would have cost the state more money to do what other governors had done and that is either charge the state for hotel rooms. Or the state rents you an apartment like they did for Governor Murkowski. We said no, we just won't sell our house, knowing that we're going to spend quite a bit of time here, especially those months where the remodels were taking place in the governor's mansion. And we would disclose my per diem, we wouldn't try to hide it ... trying to go above and beyond, not accepting any per diem for the kids or Todd at all, they've lived outside of the governor's house. Trying to follow the rules and doing what is legal and ethical and full disclosure.
Same with the family's travel. That's baffled me that all of a sudden two years later, again, never having tried to hide anything with either traveling back and forth to Juneau for first family events that were outside the capital city, in bringing Piper and, once in a while, Willow with me also, that anybody would think that I was trying to hide that they came with me ... just trying to do my job and part of my job is with the first family, having them with me at some of these events.
Q. What was it like running for vice president?
A. It was amazing. It was amazing and very, very busy and energizing. Every day was an amazing experience and I loved it ...
And I truly believe it was good for Alaska. I believe that, with tens of millions of people seeing kind of a different face of Alaska, and again, not me personally but what it is that we represent. Hardworking, unpretentious, conservationists, all these things that our administration and my family, all that we embody, has been good for Alaska because it's shown that up here we do work hard and we do want to produce and we want to contribute more to the U.S. ... And the eyes of the nation are on Alaska, they're going to be on us for a long time.
Q. They, of course, will be on you, governor. Rasmussen Reports said 64 percent of Republicans see you as their top presidential choice in 2012.
A. Oh, look how fickle poll numbers are. Look where I've gone, up and down, up and down, even in the state of Alaska the last couple of months. We can't pay attention to those numbers.
Q. Still that's got to be pretty heady stuff, you've got to be thinking about that?
A. I think OK, it provides opportunity, again, to do things right up here as the governor. And to make sure that, if those eyes of the nation are on the state, that we are responsible, we are just, we are fair, we are productive, all those things that this state already is but we have opportunity to be even more so. The eyes of the nation are on the state, we're not going to let them down, we're going to make sure that people know we can do things right up here.
And then that, too, opens the door for more opportunity for the state. Ultimately, what it results in is more job opportunity for Alaskans. Because as more of an allowance is given to our state to ethically and responsibly develop our resources, we'll have more explorers up here, we'll have more companies up here wanting to do business. That can lead to great job creation in the state.
Q. Were you aware that during the campaign there were some large protests in Anchorage against your candidacy as well as your handling of the Walt Monegan issue? What do you think about that and what can you do to bring those people back.
A. To bring those people back in terms of ... I wasn't aware of all the protests until like after they'd happened, I hear about it, a friend e-mailing me or something saying that there were placards out there saying whatever they would say. I think that's the nature of a national level campaign also. The opposition to our ticket on the national level, that's going to be expressed here on the local level too. The whole Monegan thing, I am glad that we've already gone through two different processes now, the personnel board, which is where it should have been all along, and the legislative investigation of it also. It's done. It's over. People need to move on.
Q. Do you think it's going to be difficult for the state to make a case for earmarks, given that you and John McCain were so outspoken against them?
A. Not so much the case being made more difficult for Alaska in requesting but we'd better make sure that every earmark we request is in the nation's best interest and is something that has been vetted and seen the light of day via public participation.
Q. So fewer earmark requests coming?
A. I'm sure there will be fewer earmark requests and they will be sensible earmark requests, again, those things that can help on a national front, not just on a state front.
Q. What did you think of Tina Fey, really?
A. I really liked her. Her in-laws came to one of our rallies and met us backstage. They're pretty hardcore Republicans, the in-laws were. She had told me that, she was like, believe it or not, I'm from a family of Republicans. You, know, it was like, we have more in common than you think. when I was the mayor. So gosh, we have so many examples, I mean every day, especially the first few weeks, every day something that was thrown out there.