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Originally published November 8, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified November 8, 2008 at 12:19 AM

Live inauguration coverage: AP | Washington Post | KUOW

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Palin calls criticism "cruel"

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday blasted anonymous campaign staffers who have criticized her behavior on the campaign trail in recent days.

McClatchy Newspapers

On TV

Fox News host Greta Van Susteren has landed the first postelection interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the network said Friday. The host of "On the Record" flew Friday to Alaska, where she'll interview the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sunday and Monday. The taped interview will air on her Monday program. Van Susteren has objected to the anonymous criticism of Palin: "The sniping at Governor Palin after the election by 'anonymous' sources is rotten," Van Susteren wrote on her blog Friday.

Los Angeles Times

ANCHORAGE — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Friday blasted anonymous campaign staffers who have criticized her behavior on the campaign trail in recent days, saying it's "cruel, it's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional."

A pack of local and national media was waiting for Palin when she returned to work for the first time since joining Sen. John McCain's campaign on Aug. 29.

In an impromptu news conference in her office lobby, the governor talked about her future in national politics; whether Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens should resign after being found guilty on corruption charges; and anonymous criticism from McCain campaign aides who claim she went on a shopping spree with Republican Party money and didn't know Africa is a continent rather than a country.

"If there are allegations based on questions or comments I made in debate prep about NAFTA, about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context. And that's cruel, it's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it taking things out of context, then tried to spread something on national news," Palin said.

Much of the sniping by anonymous McCain staffers in media outlets such as Newsweek and the Fox News Channel is over the Republican National Committee's purchase of more than $150,000 in clothes for Palin as well as her family.

"Those are the RNC's clothes, they are not my clothes. I never forced anybody to buy anything. I never asked for anything more than maybe a diet Dr Pepper every once in a while," she said.

"It's just very, very disappointing because this is Barack Obama's time right now and this is an historic moment in our nation and this can be a shining moment for America in our history. And look what we're talking about again, we're talking about my shoes and belts and skirts. This is ridiculous."

As for Stevens, after a jury found Stevens guilty on seven felony counts of lying on his financial disclosure reports Oct. 28, Palin said: "even if elected on Tuesday, Senator Stevens should step aside to allow a special election to give Alaskans a real choice of who will serve them in Congress."

With Stevens leading by a thin margin after Tuesday's election, Palin appeared to have changed her mind. His fellow senators will have to decide whether to expel him, Palin said. "That's their baby, they'll have to figure out what to do."

Pressed on whether she is calling on Stevens to resign if his lead holds after absentee ballots are counted, she said: "Not after the will of the people has been made manifest via that vote."

If Stevens resigns or is expelled from the Senate, there would be a special election to pick his replacement. Would Palin run?

"Not planning on that, no, not planning on that. Just being very thankful to get to hustle back to my governor's office here and get to work as the governor," Palin said.

Palin said she didn't know if she'd try to make a run for vice president or president in 2012. She said her presence on the national stage going forward would be about the state, not about furthering her own interests.

"My participation on a national level, it will all have to do with what it is that Alaska needs and how Alaska can progress and contribute more to the U.S.," Palin said.

She mostly defended herself from a barrage of criticism that has been aimed at her from anonymous McCain aides ever since the McCain-Palin ticket was defeated Tuesday.

"For the most part, absolutely, media persons, reporters, have been absolutely right on and there has been fairness and objectivity," Palin said. "There have been some stinkers, though, who have kind of made the whole basket full of apples, once in a while, smell kind of bad."

Senior McCain aides had moved to quell the divisions earlier in the day. Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain campaign aide who worked with Palin, defended her on Friday on NBC's "Today" show.

"She is perhaps the most un-diva politician I've ever seen," Wallace said. "The only thing I've ever seen her ask for is a diet soda."

Palin initially brushed off the criticisms, but upon her return home decided to address them. She said that threats that the Republican National Committee would send lawyers to Alaska to audit the clothes they had bought her were false.

"There is no clothes audit, except for when the belly of the plane got cleaned out, all the piles of the clothes that they had in there, they wanted me at my house to go through it and box things up and send it," Palin said during a brief interview in her Anchorage office.

"There's no attorneys coming up, and there's no need for it or anything else," she said.

In response to allegations that as much as $40,000 was spent outfitting the governor's husband, Todd Palin, Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton said:

"Two people were told to go clean up Todd ... so he could look the part. They went and purchased ... two suits. I'm not sure two suits add up to $40,000."

Additional information from the Los Angeles Times and New York Times is included in this report.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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