Speculation that she will run for President in 2012 is reaching fever pitch. But what do those who watched Sarah Palin grow up make of her meteoric ascent – and ruthless ambition?
Should she run for president in 2012? Sarah's mother, Sally, doesn't hesitate. "It would be a tough thing to do," she starts to say, until Chuck interrupts: "It's up to her, whatever she wants to do." Sally, in a green zip-up sweatshirt, continues. "I love what she's doing now: scouting around for who would be good candidates, who honestly could stand up and speak and not be afraid to tell it like it is."
They don't know her plans, the Heaths are quick to add, in their first national interview in over a year. But "it would be fun to find out some day", Sally says, with a contagious laugh.
In other words, Sarah's parents seem to feel the way a lot of Alaskans feel about the state's best-known export, next to oil and salmon: torn over the wisdom of her trying to make the White House her home. […]
"Four years ago, right after she was elected, I was quoted as saying, 'The graveyards of Alaska are covered with the bones of people crossed by Sarah Palin.' While I said crossed, what I meant was underestimated," said Alaska Republican pollster David Dittman. "And that's still true. Consistently, whether it's the local city council in Wasilla, no matter where she's gone – say, on the cusp of achieving something – there've always been detractors that say it can't happen, it won't happen, this is why she won't be successful. That's why I will say, to this day, the political graveyards of Alaska – and other places – are filled with the bones of people who underestimated Sarah. And it's still happening."
Adele Morgan, one of Palin's oldest friends in Alaska, can attest to that. She recalls approaching Palin in 2005, when she first heard that her childhood pal and basketball buddy was running for governor. "I had heard that just from the grapevine so I went and asked her," Morgan recalls. "I thought that was quite the feat at the time. And I said, 'What are your plans?' I was just kidding around and I said, 'So do you want to be president?' And that was way back then and she said, 'Well maybe.' And I was like, 'Wow you got some goals there, girl!'" […]
She doesn't spend nearly as much time there as she used to amid her speaking engagements, book tours, and appearances for midterm candidates across the country. (Indeed, until her endorsement of insurgent candidate Joe Miller in the state's GOP Senate primary, who nosed out incumbent Lisa Murkowski, Palin's influence had not been felt much at all since she resigned the governorship in 2009.) […]
Palin's foray this summer into the Alaska Senate race left similarly bruised feelings, exacerbating a long-running feud with the Murkowski family which has divided the state's Republican ranks. It started when former senator Frank Murkowski bypassed Palin when, upon election as governor, he decided to appoint his daughter to fill out the remainder of his term in Congress. Palin returned the favour by ousting Murkowski in the GOP 2006 gubernatorial primary. The fighting continued this summer, when Palin's decision to back Joe Miller helped propel him past Lisa Murkowski for the GOP Senate nomination. […]
Ms Mansour: "I've worked for her for over a year, and I have not seen any mean side to her. She's not mean like that. I don't get that criticism. She's always been very kind and considerate with me."
In smoothing over some of these rifts, Palin's parents are a great asset. Monegan, the ex-public safety commissioner, says he hasn't had any contact with Palin or her inner circle. But last winter, he ran into Chuck Heath at a dinner celebrating Alaskan seafood. Heath ran over to Monegan and gave him a handshake and hug, telling him: "That's just politics. I still like you." Heath even went over to Monegan's table to meet his family and regale them with stories of his daughter's book tour. […]
Chuck Heath says his daughter has been busy this summer working on her show for TLC, Sarah Palin's Alaska, and gave a glimpse into what it will look like. He went caribou hunting with Palin and the TLC team and his favourite episode was their gold-mining adventure, he says: "The people in Nome treated us so well and we found not a lot of gold. But enough gold to make it interesting."
The Independent: Madam President? It could happen By Shushannah Walshe