JUNEAU, Alaska – As Alaska governor, Sarah Palin struggled with the gossip about her family and marriage.

As newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee, she was dismayed by the 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 from as far away as Belgium.

At least once, she prayed for strength. Other times, she fired off messages to her aides, most fierce when the subject was defending her record or family.


The glimpse into Palin’s life 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.

The emails referred to in this story are quoted as written; no spelling mistakes have been corrected.

Within minutes of the release, Palin tweeted a link to the website for “The Undefeated,” a documentary about her time as governor and her arrival on the national political stage.

Her supporters, meanwhile, encouraged everyone to read the messages. “The emails detail a Governor hard at work,” Tim Crawford, the treasurer of her political action committee, Sarah PAC, said in a statement.

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 hasn’t yet decided whether she will run.

Many news organizations, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and msnbc.com, began scanning and posting the emails on their websites throughout the day

Clive Thomas, a longtime Palin observer who’s writing a book on Alaska politics, said he’s not sure whether the emails will affect people’s perceptions of her.

“I guess most people, I think, who don’t like Sarah Palin are hoping there’s something in there that will deliver the final sort of blow to her (politically),” he said. As for Palin’s backers, he said, he doesn’t think their opinion of her will be changed regardless of what comes out.

In the months before Palin became presidential nominee John McCain’s running mate, the emails showed a governor dealing with complaints, rumors and gossip about her family. In several, she asked about the identity of someone who alleged that she had not buckled her son Trig properly into his car seat.

In another, she lamented about gossip about her family and marriage. Palin’s daughter Bristol emailed a Palin staffer in July 2008: “Mom and I were just praying about the hurt and anger that comes with her job. Thank you for your faith in God.

“We share it and we love you!” Bristol wrote.


The emails also reveal Palin’s sensitivity to the way she was portrayed in the media, even at a time when the coverage came mainly from local outlets in Alaska. Palin’s contentious relationship with the national news media has become a major theme of her political persona.

In 2008, for instance, a Palin press aide sent her an essay about Jane Swift, the onetime governor of Massachusetts, who raised young children while in office. Palin replied with a barb about a recent column by an Anchorage Daily News writer.

“Pls remind Julia Omalley that ‘they’ said the same thing throughout my career — ‘too young,’ ‘pregnant,’ ‘kids’ … ‘She won’t be able to do it,’ ” Palin wrote. “This coming from good ol’ boys who don’t like change. … And so far along in my career we’ve proved them wrong at each turn.”

After she was elevated to the national ticket, news organizations began vetting Palin’s record. She was accused of essentially turning over questions about her gubernatorial record to McCain’s campaign managers, part of a GOP strategy to limit any embarrassing disclosures and shape her image for voters in the rest of the country.

On Sept. 13, 2008, her then-spokesman, Bill McAllister, wrote to Palin: “Governor, Got your message just now; didn’t quite understand. Mike said yesterday to refer most things to the campaign. That pretty much has been the practice lately.”

On Sept. 15, 2008, Palin responded to media questions presented to her by McAllister. Among them was one about a tanning bed at the governor’s mansion and whether it was her “belief that dinosaurs and humans co-existed at one time?”

“I am so sorry that the office is swamped like this! Dinosaurs even?! I’ll try to run through some of these in my head before responding,” Palin wrote. “And the old, used tanning bed that my girls have used handful of times in Juneau? Yes, we paid for it ourselves. I, too, will continue to be dismayed at the media.”

On Sept. 17, 2008, Palin forwarded a profanity-laced email from a man claiming to be a Juneau resident from her government account to two aides. “You need to be shot from one of the planes that shoot th very wolves that you ordered,” the email said. She also got another threat from someone in Belgium.


The emails also showed the support that national political figures gave Palin on a variety of issues.

Ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich advised a McCain-Palin campaign manager on how to blunt the impact of a September 2008 Washington Post report that she accepted $17,000 in per diem payments for time she spent at her Wasilla home.

Gingrich said the campaign should elaborate on its initial defense that Palin didn’t charge the state for money she could have collected to spend on her kids.

“This should be brought into a single number childrens (sic) days not charged equals $X that palin did NOT charge the taxpayers for that she was legally entitled to,” Gingrich wrote. “Offsets 90 per cent of the story’s impact.”

— The Washington Post contributed to this report.