JUNEAU, Alaska -- Much of the country was taken by surprise when Sarah Palin became the Republican vice presidential candidate in August 2008, but newly released emails show the little-known Alaska governor was angling for the slot months before Sen. John McCain asked her to join him on the GOP ticket.
Earlier that summer, Palin and her staff began pushing to find a larger audience for the governor, nudging the McCain campaign to notice her.
Palin and her staff talked excitedly on June 19 about plans to repeal Alaska's fuel tax. Ivy Frye, a longtime Palin aide and friend, said she would send details to McCain staffers when they became available.
"They're going to love it!" Frye wrote. "More vp talk is never a bad thing, whether you're considering vp or not. I still say president Palin sounds better tho . . . "
The glimpse into Palin's first 21 months as Alaska governor, from the time she took office to her ascension to GOP vice presidential candidate, came in more than 24,000 pages of emails released Friday by the state. Citizens and news organizations, including The Associated Press, first requested the emails during the 2008 White House race as they vetted a nominee whose political experience included less than one term as governor and a term as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.
The emails showed that supporters nationwide began suggesting to Palin that she would be a good vice presidential candidate as early as April. That attention increased after she appeared on conservative commentator Glenn Beck's "Headline News" show on CNN in early June.
"We have heard your name, along with our own Governor, mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate," wrote a person who identified himself as Ron Peters of Shreveport, La. "I think you could do a lot for the Republican Party and would be an outstanding choice. Is this within the realm of possibility?"
Letters congratulating her on the birth of her son Trig poured in at the same time, even as Palin dealt with rumors that her daughter Bristol, not the governor, was the baby's mother.
"Even at Trig's doc apt this morning his doc said that's out there (hopefully NOT in their medical community-world, but it's out there)," Palin wrote on April 22. "Bristol called again this afternoon asking if there's anything we can do to stop this, as she received two girlfriend-type calls today asking if it were true."
Many reporters were already paying attention. A deputy press secretary told Palin in early June that she was fielding interview requests "on everything from polar bears to the VP buzz" from national media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal.
Three years later, Palin is among the top tier of potential 2012 presidential candidates in polls of Republican voters. Her recent bus tour of the Northeast fueled speculation about her national ambitions. She has said she has not yet decided whether she will run.
Excerpts from Sarah Palin's emails
"They're going to love it! More vp talk is never a bad thing, whether you're considering vp or not. I still say President Palin sounds better tho . . . " wrote Ivy Frye, a longtime aide and friend to Sarah Palin, in a June 19, 2008, email as the then governor ofthe Alaska governor appeared to be angling to be John McCain's running mate.
Palin herself came close to quitting over media reports on her family: "Guys, I may be pretty wimpy about this family stuff but I feel like I'm at the breaking point with the hurtful gossip about my family," Palin wrote to aides. "I hate this part of the job and many days I feel like it's not worth it."
During the McCain campaign, she was sensitive to criticism from Alaskans that she was neglecting her state duties: "Pls make sure we're getting state business announcements out to the public under my name as often as possible," she wrote on a personal email account to her chief of staff Mike Nizich in September 2008.
Palin and her team were preparing making final preparations ona letter in June 2008 about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She told one aide to make sure the letter was sent to newspapers across the country. Then she added in a follow-up email: "Pls also send to McCain and Obama's camps. Thanks."