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Who Is Sarah Palin?

August 31, 2008

Originally Published By The Associated Press

A long shot: Palin had been on the running mate list, but she got little attention within it. Her father’s reaction: “Holy cow.”

Alaska’s first female governor: Palin arrived at the Capitol in 2006 on an ethics reform platform after defeating two former governors in the primary and general elections. In the primary, Palin defeated incumbent Gov. Frank Murkowski, who also had 22 years of experience in the U.S. Senate. Her task didn’t seem any easier in the general election, but she handily beat Tony Knowles, a popular Democrat who had served two earlier terms as governor.

A mother of five: The Palins’ five children are Track, 19; Bristol 17; Willow 14; Piper, 7, and baby Trig. Track enlisted in the Army in 2007 on the sixth anniversary of the Sept.11 terrorist attacks, and has been assigned to Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.

A commercial fisherman: Palin lives in Wasilla, a town of 6,500 about 30 miles north of Anchorage, with her husband, Todd, a blue- collar North Slope oil worker who won the 2007 Iron Dog, a 1,900- mile snowmobile race. The two have spent summers fishing commercially for salmon, an enterprise that once left her with broken fingers aboard their boat.

In the 1990s, the couple owned a snowmobile, watercraft and ATV business. She received a bachelor of science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho in 1987, and has worked as sports reporter for two Anchorage television stations.

A pro-life supporter: Four months into her most recent pregnancy, Palin learned the child would have Down syndrome, and she said she never had any doubts about whether she would have the baby. “We understand that every innocent life has wonderful potential,” Palin said earlier this year describing what she and her husband had confronted. Trig, her fifth child, was born in April. She also opposes gay marriage, which was constitutionally banned in Alaska before her time, but she exercised a veto that essentially grant benefits to gay state employees and their partners.

A Vogue model: Palin recently appeared in the fashion magazine. “At first they had me in a bunch of furs,” she said of the photo shoot. “Yeah, I have furs on my wall, but I don’t wear furs. I had to show them my bunny boots and my North Face clothing.”

A GOP renegade: Palin moved away from the powerful old guard of the state Republican Party during her first year as governor, but her confrontations with the state GOP began when former Gov. Frank Murkowski named her chairwoman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. There, Palin exposed current Alaska Republican Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich, who was also on the commission, for ethical violations.

In 2005, Palin co-filed an ethics complaint against Murkowski’s longtime aide and then attorney general, Gregg Renkes, for having a financial interest in a company that stood to gain from an international trade deal he was helping craft.

An opponent of Big Oil: Palin has refused to kowtow to the powerful oil industry, instead presiding over a tax increase on oil company profits that now has the state’s treasury swelling.

But she is a proponent of petroleum development, in tune with McCain, although the two disagree on drilling in Alaska’s protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She favors drilling there; he opposes it.

Palin also opposed designating polar bears as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, fearing that step would get in the way of a proposed natural gas pipeline tapping the North Slope’s vast reserves.

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