Brian Wallace, Associated Press
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 make it clear that 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, wedging her into national conversations and 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. say President Palin sounds better tho..."
The glimpse into Palin came in more than 24,000 pages of emails released Friday from her first 21 months as governor. They showed a Palin involved closely in the day-to-day business of the state while trying to cope with the increasing pressures that came with her rise from small-town mayor to governor to national prominence.
They also revealed that Palin, as the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee, was dismayed by the sudden onslaught of questions from reporters, especially one about whether she believed dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time. She also dealt with death threats, and at least once, she prayed for strength.
The emails cover the period from the time she took office in December 2006 to her ascension to GOP vice presidential candidate in August and September 2008. They were first requested during the 2008 White House race by citizens and news organizations, including The Associated Press, 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 provided details about how Palin was involved in various gubernatorial duties, including priorities like a natural gas pipeline from far northern Alaska to ship natural gas to the Lower 48.
But some of the more intriguing details centered on her rise to the national stage.
On June 4, she appeared on Glenn Beck's program on the Fox News Channel. Afterward, she received a string of flattering emails from conservatives looking for a fresh face to run alongside McCain.
"You would make an excellent president (forget being VP!!!)," a Virginia woman wrote that same day. "It is so refreshing to hear someone speak in a common sense manner."
A Cooperstown, N.Y., wrote, "You are what this country needs. ... McCain is old and maybe not be in the best of health so you would be taking on alot (sic)."
Later that month, Palin and her team were making final preparations on a letter 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."
Also in June, spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton sent Palin a draft of an op-ed piece carrying the governor's name that would be pitched to national publications "beginning with the New York Times." Palin responded the following day, writing: "Pls print."
But 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.
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