It would seem like a bad week for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, but she said she’s looking past snubs from a major Republican fundraising event and her former running mate to focus on Alaska.
At the end of a long week for the former vice presidential candidate, police said on Friday that Palin’s sister-in-law was accused of breaking into the same home twice to steal money. And the former fiance of Bristol Palin, the governor’s daughter, said that he was allowed to visit their three-month-old son, but can’t take the baby out.
Earlier in the week, former presidential candidate Senator John McCain said he wouldn’t commit to supporting Palin for president if she ran in 2012. Then she was replaced as the keynote speaker at June’s Senate-House Dinner in Washington, though she said she never accepted the invitation.
In her home state, she’s drawn fire from Republican legislators on the state’s use of federal stimulus funds.
Such setbacks could make any politician reel, but Palin breezily insisted it’s been a great week.
“I would never accomplish anything and our administration would be ineffective if all I did was try to please those who look for anything to be negative about,” she said on Thursday.
Sitting in the hallway outside her Juneau office in clogs and a puffy down vest, Palin chatted with lawmakers, looking more like the small town mayor she once was than the self-proclaimed “pitbull” in the glamorous garb who electrified rallies last fall as McCain’s presidential running mate.
But ever since the McCain-Palin ticket failed to take the White House in November, Palin’s name has been among the top tier of plausible presidential candidates for 2012. She’s done little to discourage such talk, even forming SarahPac, a national political action committee in January.
It’s colored how many onlookers view her actions since she returned to Alaska and Democratic and Republican colleagues alike are concerned she’s trying to balance the state’s needs with her national ambitions, to the detriment of the state.
Palin insisted she has one thing on her mind: “My ambitions are to be the best governor that I can be. That’s what I wake up thinking about, that’s what I go to sleep thinking about and that’s what our efforts are all day long.”
Many Alaskans were shocked when Palin announced last month that she was rejecting half of the state’s stimulus funds, though it turned out to be closer to a third.
The news was confusing enough in a state that is unusually dependent on federal dollars.
Her staff hastened to assure Alaskans that Palin was simply opening up a public debate on the money she had denounced as a “bribe” that would bind the state with federal strings.
Legislative leaders have said they’ve found very few strings attached. Palin said it appears a majority of lawmakers want to spend the federal money.
“Legislators hold the purse strings,” she wrote in an e-mail without acknowledging that she holds the veto power.
Political experts agree that if Palin does want to succeed nationally, she’s got to do a good job at home. But Rutgers University political science professor Ross Baker said it’s been a rocky road so far.
“I think she’s still ill at ease as a national figure,” Baker said. “She just hasn’t been very good at juggling her state responsibilities versus her new national image.”