ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sarah Palin met with some of the legislative leaders Wednesday and a few reporters staked it out for the chance to get a few minutes with Palin. She hasn't spoken to the press since the legislative session started a week ago.
Palin took questions for eight minutes outside of the governor's mansion, and each reporter had a chance to ask a couple as the snow came down. She talked about her new PAC and didn't dispute that she's interested in a book deal, although she said reports that she could be getting $11 million for a book are wrong.
Does the PAC mean she's running for president?
"No, not at all, not at all, no. It's helpful to have a PAC so that when I'm invited to things even like to speak at the Lincoln Day dinner in Fairbanks, to have a PAC pay for that instead of have the state pay for that because that could be considered quasi-political.
"Other governors in the past they all had a fund to be able to travel for things like that. I do not. But now we'll have an available source of funds so that we're not coming close to any ethical line to be crossed in terms of travel or participation in events that will help Alaska but could be seen perhaps as not worthy of state funding."
Are you going to D.C. this weekend?
"Yeah, I'm going to meet with those who are making decisions for Alaska in the stimulus package, including senators Feinstein and (I'll) be meeting with Mitch McConnell and others, having dinner with them and meeting with John Katz in our D.C. office on what it is that we can support in the stimulus package.
"Advocating tough too for an exemption that Alaska needs in terms of timelines for some of these shovel ready-projects. Congress is saying the projects involved in the infrastructure aspect of the stimulus package have to be shovel ready, have to get them out the door, whether it be 90 days or 120 days. Well, we're Alaska and we need an exemption there so that we're not left out in the cold in terms of some of the projects that will take a northern climate a longer period of time to make sure that we have our projects ready to go."
You'll also be going to the Alfalfa Club and the RNC this weekend?
"I don't think the RNC. The Alfalfa dinner, yes, in fact that's because President Obama is scheduled to be there. And how often will I have an opportunity to have dinner with the president? I will take up that offer to do so, yeah."
There's been some concern your focus might be elsewhere after this fall. Was that part of what you talked about with legislators?
"No, because I'm sure legislators know that I'm the governor of Alaska and this is first and foremost on my mind and my agenda. Any travel or meeting or participation in anything that I will have to do with anything outside of Alaska will only be if it's good for Alaska."
How are you juggling (national expectations with being governor)?
"It's not a tough thing to juggle when I know and am grounded in the fact that I'm Alaska's governor, that is first and foremost. ... I do receive, our office receives, hundreds if not thousands of requests to either speak or participate in something. We turn them down for the most part we say no, I'm not going to leave Alaska or I'll rarely travel outside of Alaska.
"Now a lot of people outside of Alaska don't really understand the way that we operate up here. I'm reminded quite often and my administration is reminded often, well, every other governor travels around the nation. Look at what Arnold Schwarzenegger, for instance, is doing right now, he and (Pennsylvania Gov. Ed) Rendell and others who are traveling around the nation as proponents of their infrastructure package.
"And I say that, well, Alaska is a little bit different. We're, and I say this with all due respect, we're a little bit more parochial here, which is good, it keeps you grounded. We want to make sure that our elected officials are serving the people who literally have elected them."
There's been some reports you are getting a book deal, whether it be $11 million, $4 million?
"I heard that! I can't wait to see that! No, I haven't seen that. If there were an opportunity in the future to, again, do something to promote Alaska, I will do it. But I will only do it if it's in Alaska's best interest and it doesn't harm my family."
But at this point, that's not something you are pursuing? You don't have a publisher or an agent lined up?
"I don't have a publisher but I will let you know if ever there is an offer. But that $11 million figure that I read about also is laughable. That's out of anybody's realm of possibility of consideration."
That was the last question Palin took, as she left for the Capitol.