The 'lost' Sarah Palin adviser interview on the former governor's Indian Country views
We interviewed one of the then-Alaska governor's top staffers when Palin was running for veep in 2008. Today, we publish the Q&A for the first time.
Editor’s note: We originally conducted the below interview back in 2008 with Meghan Stapleton, then an adviser to the McCain-Palin presidential ticket. At the time, we were reporting for Indian Country Today. The editor in charge of ICT back then chose not to run it, saying that then-vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s staff had not done the interview in time to fit it into an special print edition interview section. The editor also declined to publish the interview online. We will share more of that insider-y story in another post for another time. It should be noted that the current editors at ICT are different ones than the editor who made that decision years ago and that the journalist who conducted the interview went on to report for ICT for 10 more years after the previous editor’s decision was made. Today, we correct the miscall, so as to ensure transparency — and to be able to hold Palin, a newly-announced U.S. congressional candidate, more accountable on her previous Alaska Native and American Indian-focused record.
WASHINGTON — Sarah Palin is at it again, roiling all the right (and wrong) people, as she announces her plans to run for the late-Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young’s at-large Alaska congressional seat.
Like Young, the former Alaska governor — who resigned her position before completing her full first term due to scrutiny she was receiving from the press and internal state investigators — has an Alaska Native family that weighs heavily into her approach to Indian Country and Alaska Native issues.
While not personally Native themselves, both Palin and Young care and cared about Indian issues, and they are widely considered mavericks on a range of topics. (Palin’s ex-husband, Todd, who divorced her in 2020, is Alaska Native, as are her children; Young’s first wife, Lula, passed away in 2009, and she was also Alaska Native, as are her and Young’s kids and grandchildren.)
Palin, like Young, is also often controversial, yet she appears far less inclined to be bipartisan than the former dean of Congress chose to be on a variety of matters through his 49-year congressional career.
After the late U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) chose Palin to become his running mate in 2008 as he unsuccessfully challenged then-candidate Barack Obama, many people — including the senator himself — learned much more about Palin’s shortcomings as a candidate. She can sometimes appear unsteady, unprepared, and even uneducated.
She sometimes makes wacky decisions, like rapping Sir Mix-A-Lot's “Baby Got Back” on the Fox network TV musical program “The Masked Singer” in a whimsical outfit, and she proudly owns them.
She is also beloved by a portion of people who tend to vote for today’s GOP, and she has made strong inroads with former President Donald Trump, who has already announced that he is endorsing her in her quest to take over Young’s position.
Republican Indigenous people liked her back in 2008; Democratic Indigenous people loathed her.
Some Alaska Natives still appreciate her, and her popularity has reportedly grown in some Alaska pro-Trump circles, while it has waned in others since her 2008 national run for office.
Palin will be reportedly running against up to 50 other people for the seat, left open after Young passed away at the age of 88 on March 18.
Meghan Stapleton, an adviser to the McCain-Palin campign back in the day, did an in-depth interview with this reporter regarding Palin’s Alaska Native and American Indian views in fall 2008. This is the first time it has been published.