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There And Back Again

A video history of Sarah Palin's career in politics.

This past Friday, Sarah Palin announced her resignation as governor of Alaska, effective July 26. Click through for a video history of Palin's career, from the Wasilla city council to her time in the national spotlight.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The Early Years

As a teenager, Palin gained notoriety as a point guard on her high school's basketball team, winning the 1982 state championship. Here, she offers to play Barack Obama in a one-on-one game of HORSE:

Palin also competed in beauty pageants, at age twenty placing third in the Miss Alaska competition. A video of her swimsuit competition has made its way to the internet:

After college, Palin went into broadcast journalism as a sports reporter for KTUU-TV and KTVA-TV in Anchorage. Here, she anchors a 1988 sports roundup for KTUU:

Palin entered politics in 1992, when she ran for the city council of Wasilla, Alaska. She was elected the town's mayor in 1996. During that time, she often butted heads with the town "establishment," including an alleged attempt to ban library books:

Alaska Governor

After losing the 2002 Republican primary for lieutenant governor, Palin was appointed to the state's Oil & Gas Conservation Commission by newly elected Alaska governor Frank Murkowski. In 2006, Palin successfully challenged Murkowski for the GOP gubernatorial nomination and went on to defeat former governor Tony Knowles in the general.

Here, Palin debates her primary opponents, Murkowski and former state senator John Binkley:

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However, some of her media appearances would come back to bite her. In March 2008, she addressed the statewide meeting of the Alaskan Independence Party, a secessionist group:

The Palin Phenomenon

After rejecting Joe Lieberman and Tom Ridge at the last minute, Republican presidential candidate John McCain introduced Palin as his running mate on August 29, 2008:

The following week, Palin addressed the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. The speech was a hit, boosting McCain in the polls and prompting comparisons to Vice President Spiro Agnew.

She became an instant cultural phenomenon, parodied weekly on Saturday Night Live by 30 Rock star Tina Fey:


After the convention, Palin stumbled. In an interview with ABC's Charlie Gibson, she appeared not to know what the Bush Doctrine was:

Far worse was her halting interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric. Here, she talks with Couric about her views on Roe v. Wade:

Palin went on to debate Joe Biden, her Democratic counterpart, at Washington University in St. Louis. Polling afterward showed that most viewers thought Biden performed better, but that Palin bested expectations.

John McCain preferred to employ Palin at rallies, where she could draw massive crowds and excite the GOP base. To amplify their appeal to "real Americans," McCain-Palin introduced "Joe The Plumber" Wurzelbacher, an Ohioan who styled himself an anti-tax everyman:


After losing the election, McCain staffers leaked numerous damaging reports about her--including one that alleged that she did not know Africa is a continent, not a country:

In her first press statement after the elections, Palin took great pains not to rule out running for president in 2012:

Palin also gave a bizarre interview to KTUU-TV in Alaska, in which she spoke about losing the election while a man butchered a turkey in the background:

Palin remained in the media limelight through 2009. Most recently, she picked a fight with David Letterman, demanding an apology for jokes about her daughter:

Resignation... And Beyond?

On July 3, 2009, Palin announced her resignation as governor, effective July 26. She cited her desire to not waste state time on her personal scandals, comparing herself to a point guard facing a "full court press" from the national media:

Not long after, Palin gave an interview to NBC’s Andrew Mitchell in order to rebut accusations that she was "hiding out" at her husband Todd's family fishing site. She called the ethics investigations against her "politically motivated" and complained that Mitchell was not listening to her explanation:

By Dylan Matthews