sarah palin, governor palin, palin resignation
The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Robert DeBerry/AP
Gov. Sarah Palin embraces Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell after her resignation as governor in Wasilla,
Alaska, Friday July 3, 2009.

Pundits Debate Rationale of Palin’s Resignation

July 06, 2009 06:00 PM
by Liz Colville
Palin’s announcement that she would be leaving her post as Alaska’s governor has led to comparisons with President Richard Nixon, who left office only to run for president later.

Palin Cites Legal Fees in Decision

Governor Palin has 18 months left in her term, but announced at a recent press conference that she would be leaving office in the next few weeks. Watch the CNN video of her announcement via The Huffington Post.

Opening with a history of Alaska’s progress and her activities in office, Palin then spoke to the events that followed Senator John McCain’s selection of her as his presidential running mate. “Political operatives descended on Alaska last August, digging for dirt,” she said. “The ethics law I championed became their weapon of choice. Over the past nine months I've been accused of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations.”

Palin went on to say that she would “fight” for the state of Alaska and the country, but “I won't do it from the Governor's desk,” a remark which could leave her open for a presidential run in 2012.

Palin said that her children supported her decision to resign, adding that “I think much of it had to do with the kids seeing their baby brother Trig mocked by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently.” But Palin described her future as trying “to make a positive difference and fight for all our children's future from outside the Governor's office.”

Opinion & Analysis: Will Palin be back in politics?

Speculating that recent media scrutiny and a leak of an e-mail exchange between Palin and McCain campaign manager Steve Schmidt may have prompted Palin’s decision, Adele Stan writes in The Huffington Post: “[D]on't count her out; she's as tenacious a political fighter as I've ever seen. She'll no doubt put the time gained of her early exit from the governor's mansion to good use—perhaps studying up on issues for her visits to the people of Iowa and New Hampshire.”

“For some Republicans, the comparison that came to mind was when Richard M. Nixon announced in 1962 that he was leaving politics for good,” Adam Nagourney wrote in The New York Times.

But of course, Nixon actually went on to successfully run for president, using “the next six years to quietly refurbish his image, building ties with the conservative wing that was becoming ascendant in the Republican Party, ingratiating himself with Republican senators and candidates for governor by campaigning on their behalf, and becoming better schooled in issues,” as Stan suggested Palin might do.

Some speculated that Palin’s decision followed criminal investigations. Since her announcement, her lawyer released a four-page letter warning the media against defamation, Politico reports. An FBI representative has also denied allegations that she is being investigated. "Normally we don't confirm or deny those kind of allegations out there, but by not doing so it just casts her in a very bad light,” FBI spokesperson Eric Gonzalez was quoted as saying by the Anchorage Daily News.

The Today Show mentions in a video report on the MSNBC Web site that 15 out of 16 ethics violations against Palin have been dismissed. In her speech, Palin did not mention the sole outstanding investigation.

On “Fox News Sunday,” Bill Kristol defended Palin’s decision and said that if she is planning to run for president in 2012, she made a wise decision in “a world where people don't value years of experience in Washington, or even conceivably two terms as governor of Alaska,” he was quoted as saying on the Politico blog Politico Live.

Background: Nixon quits, only to return as a presidential candidate

President Richard Nixon lost two important political races that seemed like they would end his political career. He first lost the presidential race to John F. Kennedy in 1960 “by the smallest margin of any presidential race in American history,” according to American RadioWorks. He then lost to Edmund Brown in the race for governor of California in 1962.

“You don't have Nixon to kick around anymore," he announced to the press after the second defeat. “This is my last press conference.” But he came back and won the presidency in 1968 and was reelected in 1972 “by a landslide.” 

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