ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Sarah Palin says she’s not a quitter, she’s a fighter, but adds that, politically speaking, “if I die, I die. So be it.”
The Alaska governor, who was born in Sandpoint, spoke in taped interviews on ABC, NBC, Fox News Channel and CNN broadcast Tuesday morning.
She told CNN that “all options are on the table” for her future, and told Fox she doesn’t know what the future holds.
But Palin told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that she recognizes she might not have political staying power after her surprise resignation Friday, which came just as she had been expected to elevate her national profile ahead of a possible 2012 GOP presidential run.
“I said before … ‘You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it,’” she said.
Speaking in fishing waders from the town of Dillingham, Palin said her administration has been paralyzed by fending off frivolous lawsuits.
“I’m not going to take the comfortable path. I’m going to take the right path for the state,” she said of her resignation, which she characterized as a matter of progressing in an unconventional way.
“That caught people off guard. … It’s out of the box and unconventional. That’s what we are as Alaskans and certainly how I am as a public servant.”
Palin said she doesn’t think she needs a title to bring about “positive change,” but added that she can’t see herself being totally out of public service. She criticized President Barack Obama, a possible sign she’s looking toward the 2012 presidential race.
“Average, hardworking Americans need to be able to get out there, unrestrained, and fight for what is right, fight for energy independence and national security, fight for a smaller government instead of this big government overgrowth that Obama is ushering in,” Palin told Fox News Channel.
The outgoing Alaska governor told the Anchorage Daily News she stepped down because ethics complaints against her and her squabble with lawmakers would have paralyzed the 18 months she had left in office.
“Especially when all these lawmakers are lining up for office,” she said. “Their desire would be to clobber the administration left and right so that they can position themselves for office. I’m not going to put Alaskans through that.”
She told the paper she believes her replacement, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who will take office on July 26, will diffuse the controversy that surrounds her.
“With Sean in the governor’s seat, it won’t be the politics of personal destruction, I don’t believe,” Palin said.
She added she wasn’t sure what her next step would be.
“I can’t predict the next fish run much less what’s going to happen in a few years,” she told the Daily News. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep working hard for Alaska.”
Palin has spent the past four days with her family, but she returned to work as Alaska governor Tuesday in a remote fishing village 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
Palin was scheduled to appear in Kotzebue to sign a bill designed to bring public safety officers to small towns. Kotzebue, a town of about 3,000 people, is 550 miles northwest of Anchorage and lies on a spit of sand at the end of a peninsula.
There has been speculation that she has some legal issue that is not yet known to the public. But her lawyer said Monday that she has no legal problems whatsoever, and simply is tired of the hostile political climate, legal bills and other distractions.
“She is leaving now because I think she believes that she has become the issue, rightly or wrongly, with all these ethics complaints and with the issues involving the Legislature, the combativeness they’ve been demonstrating toward her since she returned from the campaign,” Thomas Van Flein said.
“I think she believes it’s in the best interest of the state to progress forward, for her to move on to other issues.”
Palin has become a lightning rod for partisan politics in Alaska since her return from the 2008 presidential campaign after John McCain selected her as his running mate for the GOP ticket. She has racked up an estimated $500,000 in legal bills defending the flurry of ethics complaints, including one filed Monday that alleges she is violating ethics law by taking per diem payments when she stays in her Wasilla home instead of the governor’s mansion in Juneau.
In addition, her relationship with Democrats in the state Senate — once among her staunchest allies — deteriorated in the last session.
At the state Capitol in Juneau, the “Time to Make a Difference” clock that counted the time left in Palin’s term was taken down from the wall outside her office. And people from around the country called her office to inquire about the situation, as did a few cruise ship tourists who made the trek to the Capitol.
The young woman at the desk outside Palin’s office was busy answering phones.
“Yes, she is getting swamped with e-mails,” the woman tells one caller. “Yes, they do get forwarded to the appropriate person.”
“Unfortunately, we are having a back load of e-mails so it will take some to get a response,” she tells another.
Where is she? Why is she stepping down? When is her last day? Why so soon?
The tour guide tried to politely answer the questions for the tourists when she could, but for the most part had no answers.
Some of the visitors left Palin messages in a guest log.
“Sarah — Please Stay!” one person wrote.
Kathy Waldo-Gilbert, a registered Democrat from Iowa who was on her honeymoon in Alaska, said she was especially disappointed because she believes that Palin’s early departure from the governor’s job will make it harder for other women who want to be taken seriously in high-profile positions. Waldo-Gilbert voted Republican for the first time in last year’s presidential election.
“When things get hard, you stick around,” she said.
Erika Fagerstrom, executive residential manager at the governor’s mansion, said Palin and her family will be missed. Even though Palin lived most of the time at her home in Wasilla, she spent “quite a bit” of time at the stately columned mansion near the Capitol, she said.
“We are sad to see her go. They are a great family,” she said.
Palin will be succeeded by Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, who has announced he will seek to retain the office in the 2010 election.
State Rep. John Harris, a former House speaker and Republican from Valdez, announced Monday that he’s preparing to file paperwork with state election officials in a bid for governor.