Sarah Palin bus tour: Todd Palin's perspective on 2012 election

Sarah Palin's husband, Todd (aka 'First Dude') tells reporters covering the Palin family bus tour that it's Sarah's decision to run or not in 2012.

Alex Brandon/AP
Sarah Palin, former GOP vice presidential candidate, talks with her daughter Piper, left, sitting behind her father Todd Palin, as they get ready for the Rolling Thunder ride from Pentagon Sunday, May 29, 2011.

By Shushannah Walshe


The "First Dude" says he’s not pushing her to run. Todd Palin chatted with reporters at a coffee shop in Pennsylvania after touring the Gettysburg battlefields. It is day three of the Palin Bus Tour, which is stopping at historical sites up the East Coast. “It’s up to her what she decides to do. I am not pushing her either way. It’s her decision,” Palin told a small group of reporters after his wife met with customers at the coffee shop. “There are pros and cons of course. But this country, we have to get back on the right track.”

At Express Coffee in Dillsburg, he also denied that the bus tour is a “test run” for his family saying his children have grown up with their mother in the spotlight.

“This family has been tested. When people talk about how she was just plucked up out of Wasilla, you have to look at her career. Every step in her career is another step for the family, and we were prepared. These kids grew up around the mayor of a small town. Local politics is in your face every day, it’s not like you get on a plane and fly to D.C. or Juneau.”

When asked if the Palins would consider bringing press aboard their “One Nation” tour bus much like John McCain did in 2008 he said, “It’s a different scenario” because his wife “is employed by Fox.”

Earlier Tuesday, she slipped out—unbeknownst to the press covering her—leaving her tour bus behind at her Gettysburg hotel. Reporters who believed she was still inside waited by the bus until they realized Palin was already touring the Gettysburg battlefields. The press scrambled to catch up with her at the Gettysburg National Cemetery before she took off again to Dillsburg. It seemed as though she was trying to fool the mass of press trying to follow her tour that’s taken her through historical sites in Washington D.C. and up the East Coast without a schedule or press notifications, but Todd Palin said the “intention” of the tour is to bring the group (reporters included) to see historic sites around the country, not to allude to the press.

“She talks to you guys, you are getting a lot, right? Being here you are getting a lot. There is nothing staged, there is nothing advertised. How many in this group have been to Gettysburg before? How many have been to the national archives? So that’s the whole intention of this tour,” he said.

Sarah Palin talked to the customers about job creation as tourists and reporters crammed into the small coffee shop to try to ask Palin questions or take a picture with her. One supporter pleaded with Palin to run saying, “You must run, seriously.” She told the customers she was chatting with that she was still deciding herself whether to get into the race.

Palin said she disagreed with a troop withdrawal deadline from Afghanistan: “It’s not good war strategy.”

“It sounds like they are going to be starting to come home and I’ve said along with Sen. McCain and so many others the conditions on the ground need to dictate when our troops start coming home instead of having some kind of political decision being made with a drop dead deadline to send our troops home. We show the enemy our playbook, that doesn’t make any sense,” Palin told The Daily Beast.

She was also asked whether she is in favor of a federal subsidy of ethanol—an important issue in every presidential race because of the Iowa caucuses—and called for the elimination of all energy subsidies, which may not go over well in the first caucus state.

“I think that all of our energy subsides need to be re-looked at today and eliminated, and we need to make sure that we’re investing and allowing our businesses to invest in reliable energy products right now that aren’t going to necessitate subsidies because bottom line, we can’t afford it.”

If she runs, energy policy and her oil and gas record in Alaska will be the issues she’ll want to focus on during a presidential campaign. Tuesday she said we need to “develop our God-given resources, our coal, our oil, our natural gas—to invest—to allow our businesses to invest in alternative energies, but not necessarily government subsidizing—picking winners and losers in the energy market. We’ve got to allow the free market to dictate what’s most efficient and economical for our nation’s economy. But no, at this time, our country can’t afford subsidies. Before though we even start arguing about some of these domestic subsidies that need to be eliminated—should be—we need to look at ending subsidies and loans to foreign countries and their energy production that we’re relying on like Brazil.”

Palin is now at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, but it’s unclear where her next stop may be. As reporters chase her tour bus across the Northeast it’s Palin that’s in the driver’s seat.

Shushannah Walshe covers politics for The Daily Beast. She is the co-author of Sarah From Alaska: The Sudden Rise and Brutal Education of a New Conservative Superstar. She was a reporter and producer at the Fox News Channel from August 2001 until the end of the 2008 presidential campaign.

IN PICTURES: Sarah Palin bus tour

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