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'Hockey mom' becomes surprise GOP VP pick

Take a closer look into the life and vice presidential campaign of  Gov. Sarah Palin, R-Ala.
Image: Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin waves next to her daughter Piper after being introduced as vice presidential candidate to Republican presidential candidate John McCain.John Gress / Reuters

It is one of the most extraordinary entrances onto the national political stage in U.S. history when John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate stunned the nation. Her selection was so secret that even Sarah’s parents were kept out of the loop.

CHUCK HEATH, SARAH PALIN’S FATHER: In the morning we got a call from Atlanta. Was it Atlanta?  And we had no idea this was happening. No idea at all. Complete surprise.

But just who is Sarah Palin? In her coming out party at the Republican Convention she gave her own simple description: hockey mom. But in an exclusive interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson we got our first unscripted look Sarah Palin.

CHARLES GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?

PALIN: They’re our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

GIBSON: Do you favor putting Georgia and Ukraine into NATO?

PALIN: Ukraine yes and Georgia, Putin thinks otherwise obviously he thinks otherwise.

GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russian went into Georgia?

PALIN: Perhaps so!

Sarah Louise Heath arrived on February 11, 1964 in Sandpoint, Idaho. She is the third of four children, all born in rapid succession to Sally and Chuck Heath. When she is two months old, the family moves to Alaska, eventually settling in Wasilla.

KAYLENE JOHNSON, BIOGRAPHER: There were only about 400 people in Wasilla about the time that they moved here.  It was just a  really wide spot in the road, on the way to Fairbanks. 

KRISTAN COLE, FRIEND: There was one gas station. So we ordered our school clothes out of the Sears and Roebuck catalog. You froze milk.  Your mom made bread, that type of stuff.

HEATHER BRUCE, SISTER: It was a fantastic little town the grow up in, to raise kids.  And it was a tiny little crossroads.

COLE: Sarah’s mom, Sally, I mean, any time we went over to the house, she was always saying, “Are you hungry, dear?  Do you want some cookies?  Come here.  Come on, now, you need to eat.” 

Sarah is close to her brother Chuck Jr. and her sisters Heather and Molly, sometimes almost too close for comfort.

JOHNSON: They shared a bedroom as they were growing up.  And they would sometimes, pile up all in the same bed together. 

BRUCE: She was an active, feisty, little pistol sometimes.

People who know Sarah well say that the tenacity she exhibits today took root in childhood.

JOHNSON: Chuck, Sarah’s father, has mentioned that when people come to him asking him to influence her on policy decisions as a governor, he just laughs.  Because he says he lost that leverage when she was two years old.

From the beginning, religion is a defining force in Sarah’s life. She attends church camps and vacation Bible schools. At age 12 she asks to be baptized, making a public statement of faith.

JOHNSON: They went to church on Sundays, sometimes twice.  They went to church on Wednesday evenings. 

COLE: Well, she is a person of faith, there’s no question about it.  And I think that is a foundation for her.

BRUCE: She doesn’t make any major decision in her life without seeking some really, really strong guidance.  And her faith is that guidance.

The great outdoors is another inspiration; a quintessential Alaskan family, the heath’s hunt and fish. Sarah shoots her first rabbit when she is 10 years old and in her teens she kills caribou with her father.

COLE: Hunting and fishing was really important.  It was a way to feed our families and certainly we all grew up; eating moose and caribou and sheep.

Sports are an integral part of Sarah’s life and help shape her character

BRUCE: And she was thin, wiry, built for sports.  And there was community nights that they had gym nights.  And then taking some basketball camps to begin our basketball that was kind of the big sport for us. 

CORDELL RANDALL: She wasn’t the best athlete in the world, but she worked so hard.  And she was in such good condition that she was very successful. 

By her senior year in high school, Sarah is not only a starter, but co-captain of the girl’s team. And there’s a hot-shot on the boy’s team who’s catching her eye.

Todd Palin is the new kid in school; a transfer student from Dillingham which is a remote fishing village. He’s part Eskimo.

BRUCE: I remember the first time I saw them together.  Because I was home from college.  Christmas vacation.  I was standing in the gym at Wasilla high school.  And I looked down and I saw this cute, new boy.  And he was sitting next to Sarah on the bleachers alone.  And I asked somebody, “Who is that?”

JOHNSON: They met on the basketball court. She was a point guard for the team. And he was a star player for the Wasilla Warriors.  So, they met and started dating. 

Back on the basketball court, Sarah earns the nickname “Sarah Barracuda” for her fierce competitive nature.

RANDALL: When she was playing defense on you, you knew that a barracuda was after you because she was on you all the time. 

In 1982, for the third year in a row, the Wasilla Warriors win the regional championships but just before the state tournament Sarah suffers a serious ankle injury.

JOHNSON: She was having to sit on the sidelines for part of the game but toward the end of the game, he could see that this was just agonizing for Sarah.  So, he put her back in the game. 

ANNOUNCER: “Sarah Heath coming back into the ballgame....23 seconds left to go..twelve seconds to go... Sarah Heath is fouled!... ...Wasilla 57, Service 53... the Warriors are ten seconds away from the girls state championship, Sarah’s shot is in there! Sarah Heath just iced the game for the Wasilla Warriors!!!

The victory will become a defining moment for Sarah, one that showcases the determination, focus and will to win that will later propel her career.

After graduating from Wasilla high school as a basketball star, Sarah Palin is encouraged by her parents to go to college. But she has to pull her own weight.

BRUCE: A children of working-class parents, we were going to pay our own ways through college.  That was expected. 

Sarah trades in her fishing waders for a tiara and enters a beauty pageant.

BRUCE: She had seen that some of these beauty scholarship pageants—has some pretty good prize money.

Sarah is crowned Miss Wasilla, and then competes for a bigger title: Miss Alaska.

ADELE MORGAN, FRIEND:I went to the Miss Alaska Pageant.  I thought, I was so proud of her, especially in the interview.  And because she was so down-to-earth, and she answered the questions with humor.  And I said, “You know, she’s gonna go far.”

She comes in first runner up and, wins Miss Congeniality.

PALIN: And I got that title of Miss Congeniality out of my system back then.  It wasn’t really my thing.  I was never really comfortable with it. But it paid for some college though.

Sarah and some Alaskan friends head to Hawaii for college but they don’t last long.

JOHNSON: She and three other friends decided that, as Alaska kids, what better place to go to college than Hawaii, where there was sun and sunshine and beach.  But they got homesick for Alaska.  And they got homesick for the seasons, they transferred to Idaho from there.

She transfers colleges six times before graduating in 1987 from the University of  Idaho with a major in journalism and a minor in political science.

Sarah soon puts her college degree to use, landing a job at the local TV station in Anchorage

She doesn’t win everyone over right away.

JOHNSON: The first time Sarah worked at KTUU television as a sportscaster, she was substituting for another a male anchor.And she had a comment that came into the station after she had made her appearance on TV, as well.  “Looks like they got rid of the old guy and they put in a bimbo.”  So, she just laughed at that.  You know being young and being inexperienced has always been leveled at her at a criticism, and she’s always taken it in stride.

Her family and friends see early signs of a rising star.

BRUCE: But she was a lot smoother than I would have expected.  This girl could handle herself on camera.

While working at the station, Sarah lives with her sister Heather in Anchorage and continues dating her high school sweetheart, Todd Palin.

BOB LESTER, Friend:If you wanted a picture to put in the dictionary under Alaska guy there you’d have it: Todd Palin, he’s a tough guy,

Todd is a commercial fisherman and Sarah spends hours out in his boat, helping haul in hundreds of pounds of salmon, something they still do.

JOHNSON: Todd and Sarah both share a love for the outdoors.  And they share a love for the Alaskan way of life.  And they commercial fish together, every summer.

About a year after graduating from college Sarah and Todd  have big news, Sarah Heath has become Sarah Palin.

BRUCE: They just said, “This is the best time for us as a couple.”  And, it was sweet.  They went to a courthouse and eloped.  And wrote us all a lovely note that they had done that. 

On August 29th, 1988, Todd and Sarah elope at this courthouse in Palmer, Alaska. All alone they are told they need witnesses.

JOHNSON: They hadn’t thought of that ahead of time. They walked across the street to the local nursing home and asked if there were a couple of folks that would be interested in standing up for them at the wedding.  So, these elderly people, one in a walker, walked over across the street to the courthouse, and stood up for them at their at their wedding.

Todd and Sarah move to Wasilla, and eight months after their wedding, their first child, a boy named track, is born. Bristol, a girl, soon follows in 1990.

Todd races snowmobiles in his spare time and works on an oil field called the North Slope that supplies the trans-Alaska pipeline.

JOHNSON: His schedule was two weeks on, two weeks off.  Sarah was a stay-at-home mom for awhile. But they were just, you know, an ordinary household, an ordinary family trying to get by.

Sarah and Todd raise their family in typical Alaskan fashion.

MORGAN: It was a neat family experience too.  You know, camping and hunting, and then coming home and taking care of the moose meat.  We ground our hamburger ourselves, and we wrapped it ourselves.  We didn’t just take it to the butcher.

Sarah joins the PTA, and bonds with other mothers in town. It’s an exercise class that leads to her career in politics.

JOHNSON: She also got involved in a step aerobics class that’s where she met some key people that would be part of her political future.

The Wasilla mayor and the town’s police chief also attend the aerobics class. Little did they know they were witnessing the birth of a political superstar.

She’d been the mayor of the small Alaskan town of Wasilla for six years, and was a rising star in the Alaska Republican Party. 

Then, she took on the entrenched party establishment. It was a risky move and nobody could have predicted what would happen next.

The year is 2004 and Sarah Palin fears she’s jeopardized her political future by blowing the whistle on the corrupt practices of the chairman of her own party.

IVAN MOORE, POLLSTER: The fact that you had just made a mortal enemy of the most powerful person in the Republican party when you’ve got ambitions as a Republican politician just made it a pretty extraordinary sequence of events. 

But, it turns out, she may not have hurt her career at all. Alaskans are growing tired of what many thought was a corrupt statehouse and Palin is building a reputation as a maverick, willing to take on the good ol’ boy system.

KAYLENE JOHNSON, BIOGRAPHER: It identified her as someone outside the mainstream and outside politics as usual in Alaska. 

Palin, possibly sensing opportunity and possibly out of conviction, goes on the attack again, this time against State Attorney General Gregg Renkes.

Once again, she alleges an ethics violation by a high ranking state official and under pressure, Renkes resigns, something palin doesn’t expect.

SARAH PALIN: It seemed that the guys in Juneau, Governor Murkowski and Renkes, they were so adamant about Renkes not resigning that I think this has taken a lot of us by surprise.

MOORE: Politically, that set her up beautifully, because it really kind of cornered the market on the honesty and integrity front. 

Palin is cementing her reputation as a reformer and soon sets her sights on the highest office in Alaska. Governor Frank Murkowski, her former mentor is powerful, with more than two decades of service in Alaskan politics but he isn’t exactly riding a wave of popularity at the time.

MOORE: He was on his way to becoming categorically not only the least Gopular Governor in Alaska history, but at the time, categorically the least popular Governor of all the Governors in all the 50 states.

In October 2005, without backing from the Republican party, Palin officially throws her hat into the ring to become the next governor of Alaska. 

JOHNSON: It was certainly a David and Goliath sort of a race at that time. She was not getting the support from the Republican Party because she had been a whistle blower within the party.  

It seems Palin’s message is striking a cord with the Alaskan people. She easily rolls over the incumbent governor.

STEPHEN HAYCOX, UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA, ANCHORAGE: They were, if you will, ‘whupped’ by a one-woman show. 

MOORE: It’s not often you have an incumbent governor who fails to even get to 20 percent, in terms of the votes.  Sarah Palin got 50 percent—and really just ran away with it. 

In the general election, she attacks her Democratic opponent, another Alaskan career politician, former two-term governor Tony Knowles, with the same gusto.

In the lead-up to the election, Palin promises sweeping ethics reforms fiscal responsibility. She supports big projects, she’s hoping, with big benefits. One project, a hugely expensive plan to build a bridge connecting Gravina Island, population 50, to a large city on the mainland. Its estimated to cost $400 million dollars. The project is controversial - dubbed “the bridge to nowhere”  and later, becomes an even more contentious issue- one she won’t shake anytime soon. A week before the election, she pledges support.

PALIN, OCTOBER 2006: You know I support these infrastructure projects that will build Alaska and it’s cheaper to do it today than it is tomorrow...

And on election night...

MAN: Palin has 52.2. Tony has 36.75.

The room erupts in cheers. Palin smiles. People chant “Sarah! Sarah! Palin’s win is convincing. 

PALIN (holding Piper): With God’s grace, we will not let you down Alaska.

JOHNSON: The timing was exquisite. She was the right person at the right time.

On December 4th, 2006 Sarah Palin is sworn in. At age 42, she becomes both the youngest Alaskan governor and the first female to ever hold the office.

PALIN: I ran for governor not thinking I’m better than anyone but offering opportunity for the mantle of leadership to be passed. 

As governor, she makes a big impression in a short time. One of her first acts is to get rid of the governor’s plane.  In a bit of political theater, she puts it up on eBay.

JOHNSON: That jet represented really everything that was wrong with the government and the Republican Party in Alaska at that time. 

The plane doesn’t actually sell on eBay, but she is able to unload it to a private businessman. The next stop for Palin, tax reform. In a brazen move, she hits big oil hard.

TIM BRADNER, ALASKA JOURNAL OF COMMERCE: Governor Palin has been very tough on the petroleum industry. It was a great surprise to the companies.

Working with the legislature, Palin triples taxes on the big oil producers— generating huge revenue for the state— and provides $1,200 checks to every Alaskan to help with soaring energy costs. 

HAYCOX: Her attack, if you will, on the oil industry has been utterly central to her political rise in Alaska.

But not everyone in the legislature agrees with her tactics. Lyda green, president of the Senate and a fellow Republican, gives her governor low marks. 

LYDA GREEN, PRESIDENT OF ALASKAN SENATE: I would say it would be a C-minus.  Some of the things she said in her campaign are not what she followed through with as governor. If she and I had been sitting side-by-side years ago voting, we would have had an identical voting record. That would not be the case today.

On social issues, Palin is staunchly conservative: She favors teaching creationism alongside evolution in schools and opposes abortion, even in cases of rape.  But, as governor, she doesn’t push this agenda.

HAYCOX: I think she had to suppress her social agenda in the interest of what has to be the state’s priority right now,  the development of its energy resources.

Governor Palin turns her attention to one of her campaign issues, an Alaskan pipeline. The pipeline would carry natural gas from Alaska, through Canada, and down to the lower 48 states reducing America’s dependence on foreign energy sources and paying huge benefits to the state of Alaska.

HAYCOX: Eighty percent of Alaska’s general fund revenue is generated by taxation of oil production.  The gas line represents new economic opportunity for Alaska.

Governor Palin is working hard across party lines toward striking a deal for a pipeline, and she’s riding high.   

MOORE: To maintain an approval rating of over 80 percent is quite something.

Politically, she’s winning her battles all while juggling her responsibilities as a mother.  She’s running a state, and a home, filled with 4 kids. 

COLE: She’s a great mom.  The truth is, you see her more with her children than without them.

But, as a mom, and as a governor, she doesn’t do any of it without her husband.

BRUCE: Todd has been a part of Sarah’s success the entire journey.

REPORTER TO TODD What title would you want to go by?

TODD PALIN: It doesn’t matter.

We all know what to call a “First Lady.” Up in Alaska, they come up with another name for Todd Palin. 

BOB LESTER, RADIO PERSONALITY: "First Dude." He’s the First Dude of Alaska. Alot of us still call him Todd but that’s kind of what we went with. He’s the first dude of Alaska. 

The "first dude" is a blue collar guy, still working as a fisherman and in the oil fields while his wife is in the statehouse. He has also become something of an Alaskan celebrity.

JOHNSON: The Iron Dog snow machine race is the longest snow machine race in the world.  through some really brutal Alaskan territory.  And Todd Palin has won that race four different times.

COLE: What’s interesting is, when he’s getting ready to run the Iron Dog, she knows how important that is to him, so she takes all the pressure off of him, does whatever it takes to juggle everything pretty much herself. 

The most powerful job in the state, a husband, four kids and a sky-high approval rating. She doesn’t know yet, but there’s a lot of surprise in store that’ll change everything.

Just a year into her term as governor, Sarah and Todd Palin are riding high. He, as a cross country snowmachine champ and she as reformer with a near 80 percent approval rating.

MOORE: They’re  a pretty idiosyncratic, squirrely bunch, Alaskans.  They are sometimes tough to please.  And I don’t mean that in a negative sense.  So for her to a have achieved such adoring heights from the Alaskan public is quite something.

But even in this moment of triumph when all eyes are on Alaska’s first family, the Palins are keeping a secret.  Sarah, 44, is six months pregnant with her fifth child.

COLE: She wore scarfs and she wore jackets. Sarah was thin anyway, so she didn’t really show.

MORGAN: Not any of us knew about it. I mean her mom, her sister none of us.

COLE: I think initially she kept it secret just because she didn’t want it to be a distraction to the administration or to her job.

But there is also something different about this pregnancy. The Palins know that the child Sarah is carrying has Down Syndrome.

COLE: It took her some time to wrap her mind and her heart around all all that, both her and Todd.

In March of 2008, unable to hide her pregnancy any longer, Sarah Palin announces that she is seven months pregnant.

COLE: She did it kinda flippantly, as she was walking out the door to a press conference or something.  And I think everybody’s jaws dropped to their knees.

After assuring Alaskans she doesn’t anticipate taking any time off, Palin resumed her busy schedule.

In April, when both her delivery date and the Alaskan thaw were just weeks away, Palin flew to Texas. She was scheduled to speak at a Republican governor’s conference on energy when she got an unexpected surprise.

COLE: She woke up leaking amniotic fluid.

After calling her doctor back in Alaska, Palin delivers her speech as planned before making an eight hour flight home to give birth.

MORGAN: So she just got on the plane, even though she knew that contractions were gonna be starting pretty soon because she wanted to have that baby in Alaska.

At 6:30 the next morning, just hours after getting off the plane in Anchorage, Palin gives birth to a six pound 2 ounce baby boy that Sarah and Todd Palin name Trig Paxon van Palin.

COLE: When he was born, her daughters did not know that he had Downs Syndrome.  She intended to tell ‘em when she came back from Texas.

Just three days later, she is back to work and showing no signs of slowing down.

As spring slowly comes to Alaska, the  political talk of the nation is all about potential vice presidential running mates.

On the Republican side, the frequently mentioned names are well known: Romney, Ridge and Huckabee.

But by mid-summer, there are new names in the mix: Lieberman of Connecticut, Pawlenty of Minnesota and Palin of Alaska.

BRUCE:  I didn’t know if that was in her plan, or not.  So, I just dismissed a lot of those rumors for months. 

Though flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as some of those heavyweights, even Sarah Palin seems to think her chances of being picked are highly unlikely.

INTERVIEWER: Would you be interested in serving if you were asked?

PALIN: U h, you know, I really doubt that such a thing would happen. You have to keep things in perspective. I’m a hockey mom from Alaska. You do you really think that it is in a realm of possibily to be tapped. So, just considering the reality there, I don’t think it is ever going to happen, so I don’t really have to contemplate such a thing.

But just six weeks later Sarah Palin finds herself having to think about just that.

In a bold stroke, the Republican nominee Sen. John McCain decides to break with conventional wisdown and skip over all the big names on his list.

It is a stunning moment. Sarah Palin, virtually unknown outside Alaska, is suddenly thrust into the national spotlight.

The shock is total: and no more so than back in Alaska among her friends and family.

HEATH: And we had no idea this was happening. No idea at all. Complete surprise. 

BRUCE: I just dropped to the couch and just like, “Oh my gosh.  Oh my gosh.  This is real.  This can really happen.”

MORGAN:  You know, she can keep a secret. We didn’t know she was gonna elope either.

Even Alaskans, familiar with Sarah’s political spunk and meteoric rise, are left scratching their heads.

MOORE: Up until the moment we heard about it when it was announced that McCain had picked her, I don’t think anyone up here took it remotely seriously. We’re not used to getting any kind of national attention.

No sooner had the cheering stopped than a chorus of critics begin pointing at her resume and asking “Is she qualified?”

HAYCOX: Being the mayor of a small town, perhaps 9,000 people, for not a very long time, and then serving as governor for only a year and a half, I think raises questions for everyone, not just for Republicans as to  how qualified she might be.

Even state politicians in Alaska are quick to question whether her temperament and executive style are suited for the second highest office in the land.

GREEN: I found that many people who desired to get in to talk to her, to give proposals, to hear information or just to visit with her were not allowed to get in. Many people found it difficult to get phone calls returned, and so there was sort of a lack of communication.  Someone phrased it as “a bunker mentality.”

Soon after the national media descend on Alaska to learn more about John McCain’s running mate some begin wondering how much the McCain campaign knew about Palin before choosing her.

For openers, Troopergate, a state ethics investigation examining whether Governor Palin abused her authority when she fired her public safety commissioner.  The commissioner, Walt Monegan, claims he was fired because he would not dismiss a state trooper who had divorced the governor’s sister.

Governor Palin denies that.

PALIN: “Commissioner Monegan was not terminated because of concerns about Trooper Wooten.”

Governor Palin insists that the public safety commissioner was dismissed because he resisted her efforts to rein in spending.  An investigation is underway.

SEN. HOLLIS FRENCH, D-ALA.: There’s a good chance that the governor was using her public office to settle a private score. And we need to get to the bottom of that.

GREEN: Right now, with the special investigation going on, I think that there are questions to be asked, and information that needs to be gained

But if there are skeletons in the Palin closet they won’t be there long. With the entire family under a media microscope and it’s only days before another Palin family secret is front page news.

With John McCain’s announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate, the public vetting of this newly-minted and largely unknown vice presidential candidate begins.

Questions and revelations come fast and furious, as bloggers, tabloids and mainstream media go poking around Alaska.

NICOLE WALLACE, McCain Senior Adviser: Your colleagues who have descended on Alaska and are investigating the private lives not just of Governor Palin but of her children,

The McCain campaign has acted, shocked that anyone would have questions about this women who is virtually unknown to 100 million Americans who plan to vote in this election.

Rumors abound. One is that her 17 year-old daughter Bristol is really the mother of Palin’s infant son Trig.

The rumor is false. But the truth is still a bombshell: Bristol is about five months pregnant and planning to marry the baby’s 18 year-old father.

The Obama campaign keeps its hands off this potential hot button issue.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA, DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: I have said before and I will repeat it again, I think people’s families are off limits. And people’s children are especially off limits. 

But others aren’t so quick to deny its relevance.

MOORE: If you’re running for office and you’re taking a position of been on record in the past as saying that sex education is not something you support. And that you’re an abstinence-only person. Then if your 17 year-old ends up getting pregnant, that’s an issue.

As the public and the media struggle to keep up with the Sarah Palin whirlwind, she gets her chance to win over millions of Americans with her story in prime time and to throw a few elbows.

PALIN:  Here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion - I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country.

When the convention ends, Sarah Palin has gone from a virtual unknown to the brightest star in the republican party even outshining John McCain.

Now that she’s a national candidate, Palin’s decidedly conservative views against abortion and stem cell research, and favoring creationism are subject to closer scrutiny. Her deep religious beliefs could influence her policy. A speech from June 2008 is posted on her childhood church’s Web site.

PALIN:  Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what is right also for this country. That our leaders - our national leaders are sending them out on a task that is from God. That’s what we have to make sure that we’re praying for—that there is a plan and that plan is God’s plan. 

Palin is not without her political contradictions. She campaigns as a tax-cutting conservative but as mayor and governor she has raised them. She crusades for government ethics but has come under fire for taking thousands of dollars in travel expenses and per diems.

FRENCH:  The governor has made ethics one of her one of her signature issues.  And if she’s vulnerable on this then I think that hurts her a little bit more.

Her claims to have opposed federal funds for the Bridge to Nowhere, Alaska’s notorious earmark, are not entirely accurate.

PALIN: I told the Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks” for that Bridge to Nowhere.

But she initially supported it.

PALIN: I support these infrastructure projects that will build Alaska, its cheaper to do it today than it is tomorrow...

The bridge is never built, but she accepted some of its federal money and spent it on other projects.

MOORE:  There’s a bunch of things there which I think will come out because of scrutiny of the national campaign and because of the scrutiny of the presidential campaign. That will perhaps contradict and weaken this wholesome image that she’s managed to cultivate. 

The ultimate question for Republicans and Democrats alike, is she ready to lead?

In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Charles Gibson, Palin is asked about foreign policy.

GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?

PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?

GIBSON: The Bush, well, what do you, what do you interpret it to be?

PALIN: His world view.

GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.

PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. 

If elected, Sarah Palin will be a heart beat away from the presidency its not unfair for voters to ask, what kind of a leader would she be. Is she ready to be commander in chief?

Through it all John McCain is keeping Sarah Palin by his side. Does she hold the key to a McCain victory and to America’s future?