September 18th, 2008
09:04 PM ET

Todd Palin: The "First Dude" of Alaska

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/18/art.todd_sarahpalin.jpg caption="Gov. Sarah Palin and her 'First Dude' Todd Palin"]
Randi Kaye
AC360° Correspondent

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNN) – He’s the man Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin likes to affectionately call her “First Dude.”

Todd Palin was introduced to the nation at the Republican National Convention as a blue-collar oil worker. A laid back father of five and a world-record holding snowmobile racer.

He was also a member of Alaska’s Independence Party until 2002, a radical group that has long advocated secession of the state from the United States.

Todd and Sarah met in high school at a basketball game and eloped in 1988, six years after graduation. Todd grew up in Alaska and is part Eskimo. He’s an avid outdoorsman and champion of the Iron Dog snowmobile race.

Another image of Todd Palin has also emerged – he’s known by many as his wife’s greatest adviser and most loyal protector. One family friend told CNN, “Todd is incredibly supportive and is willing to do whatever it takes to help Sarah.”

Todd may appear quiet and subdued but he’s already made quite an impression on his wife’s running mate, Sen. John McCain. On the campaign trail earlier this month in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, McCain said, “He’s not afraid of Washington, DC! He can take them on!"

Alaskans interviewed by CNN say Todd Palin has plenty of influence.

He’s not on the state payroll, but lawmakers say he is a central figure in his wife’s policy agenda.

Stephen Branchflower is one man who certainly thinks so. He was hired by the Alaska legislature to investigate the firing of the state’s top cop and figure out if the Palins pressured him to fire the governor’s ex-brother-in-law, trooper Mike Wooten.

Sarah Palin has said Wooten repeatedly threatened her family after a bitter divorce from her sister. She claims he even threatened to kill her father, accusations that Wooten denies.

Branchflower wants to subpoena Todd Palin because he says, “[Todd Palin] has spoken to numerous government employees … I think … he's such a central figure to the events.”

Gov. Palin has denied exerting any pressure to have anyone fired. Todd Palin hasn’t spoken publicly about the case and there is no word yet if he will comply with a subpoena.

CNN was granted access to thousands of emails released earlier this year from the Governor’s office which show that Todd Palin had been copied on hundreds of them. The topics of the emails ranged from public criticism of Gov. Palin to her meetings with corporate leaders.

Andrew Halcro, who ran as an independent against Sarah Palin for Governor in 2006 and a critic of the Palins, wants to know why Todd Palin was being copied on state correspondence.

Halcro wrote a blog about Todd Palin called “Shadow Governor” and says, “Todd plays the role as kind of the fixer.”

Even Halcro found himself the subject of emails that Todd Palin was copied on. He wants to know why.

“This whole process, and the whole string of emails, to me really raise some red flags,” Halcro told CNN.

Campaign Spokeswoman Meg Stapeleton explained it this way: there is spousal privilege in that the governor is asking him to print them off or take care of business.

Alaska lawmakers say Todd Palin is a fixture at the state legislature. So much so, some told CNN they’ve joked about getting buttons that read, “What would Todd do?”

One of those lawmakers is Lyda Green, a republican and president of the state senate, but not friend of the Palins.

“I had a meeting I requested with the governor … I was particularly surprised that Todd was there. I had never seen a spouse stay in the room through the meeting.”

The campaign says, "Todd's role has not been inappropriate."

The campaign also confirms Todd Palin has taken two trips with state commissioners to survey Alaskan mines and one to survey part of the proposed route for the natural gas pipeline, his wife's key goal. the state paid for those trips, according to the campaign, because the were considered "state business" since Todd Palin is trying to expand Alaska’s workforce.

When Todd Palin isn’t at his wife’s side on the campaign trail or at the legislature, the McCain campaign says he’s at home – juggling the cooking and carpooling for their five children.

Filed under: Randi Kaye • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. Tracy

    I'd say CNN is getting pretty low when they start looking for dirt on the spouse of someone who isn't yet the VP. How about spending some time focusing on our corrupt and useless congress!

    September 19, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  2. nathan rider

    Okay, then. What was Hillary's position while Bill was president? And what is his position now that she is a Senator? She got involved with his duties and now he's doing the same. What's the big deal that "Dude" is doing the same things the Clintons have done?

    September 19, 2008 at 1:47 pm |
  3. Ben L

    Come on, let's write one article without a comment at the end. This is journalism not exposes. No accountability at all. I expect better from you Randi.

    September 19, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  4. Smythe


    I think he is 007 too..... Who is next story.... the sled dogs....? Maybe they are actually little spies in dog suits and they run around Alaska doing the dirty work for Palin.. lol

    This is too much. THe media is not media anymore.

    September 19, 2008 at 1:38 pm |
  5. Christopher Brown

    Well, doesn't get too much more sexist than this article. Females (especially GOP females) can't really run a big state on their own. Must be a man working behind the scene, wink wink. Now, if a woman is working with her husband who has all the power (see Hillary) that's fine. "You go girl!" Reverse roles, and suddenly the man must really be in charge. Unabashed sexism.

    September 19, 2008 at 1:20 pm |
  6. Brenda Harris

    Look America You had better get Serious. There are people out there that want to blown us off the face of the earth. We don't have time to court what looks like some fairy tale romance between Todd(radical) and Sarah (Can't get a story straight), John(father time) and Cindy(recovering drug addict). We need intelligent intellectials who will be able to negeotiate for peace and prosperity for our country. Also someone who won't divide us; who will inspire us to work together for the good for all and not just a select few. This country is hemorraging; it not time to play games. You people have internet. Go out there and compare Governing Alaska as compared to the whole damn country. We will not survive 4 more years of the same.

    September 19, 2008 at 12:55 pm |
  7. Bonzo

    With Michelle Obama out there making nasty remarks about Palin and our country you might better think about her influence with Barrack. BTW – he is part Inuit and your a bozo.

    September 19, 2008 at 12:54 pm |
  8. Mike S.

    Todd's involvement in government sounds a whole lot less than Hillary Clinton's role as first lady and her attempt to institute a national health care program.

    September 19, 2008 at 12:39 pm |
  9. David

    Can someone tell me why the TOP story and PICTURE, EVERY SINGLE day is of mcain or palin, with sub-lines about Obama and nothing of Joe Biden... REMEMBER HIM??? This even subliminally can suggest to the undecided that mccain is more important or ahead Come one CNN.... let's do every other day???? One day a picture and headline for Obama/Biden (don't forget Joe) and then the next for mccain/palin. I frankly am getting pretty tired of opening your webpage and seeing a palin face most of the time and then both mccain/palin together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 19, 2008 at 12:14 pm |
  10. christina pa

    Everyone who is against the cover up of troopergate and wants to sign a petition go to ALASKATROOPERGATE.COM. It only takes like 5 seconds to sign it. The petion needs 1 million names.

    September 19, 2008 at 11:39 am |
  11. LDM Bayview, WI

    It does seem odd that he would be involved in the day to day workings of his wife's work. I could understand her using him as a soundboard for her strategies, but he does not belong in her work environment. One thing for sure I don't feature Elmer Fudd and Caribou Barbie having the nuke codes for USA. She seems trigger happy enough.
    I agree with what so many have said, "think about the last 8 years, is your family better off?" The obvious answer is only if you're very wealthy...

    September 19, 2008 at 9:57 am |
  12. Sam

    There are millions of workers that work in the USA that have codes of conduct that have to followed! And that includes in keeping information confidential.

    Don.t care if its her husband or not.

    You ever herd of the saying, loose lips sink ships!

    September 19, 2008 at 9:56 am |
  13. Mike, Lake Worth, FL.

    Todd Palin is doing what any of us would in his situation, which is to support their spouse. However, the issue of refusing to testify in the investigation is just another example of how politicians think they above the law or that it does'nt apply to them. John Q Public would be in jail for these actions. Another reason I'll be switching from republican to independant next election.

    September 19, 2008 at 8:57 am |
  14. Sam Johnson

    To Tammy:

    Couples SHOULD help and support each other. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is a SENATOR. Of course she is involved in white house affairs. That IS NOT the same as a nobody spouce sitting in on private governor meetings.

    September 19, 2008 at 8:35 am |
  15. Frank S

    I couldn't agree more with you, Helen...Todd Palin is right at Sarah's coat tails. Does the Republican ticket have three people on it? Looks to me like the lineup is Sarah, Todd and John. I don't want any of these peopole anywhere near the "button" do you?

    September 18, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  16. will goforth

    I am a democrat but have recieved several emails from friends in tennessee that a state senator (democrat) son is the prime suspect on hijacking palin personal email. i disagree with palin but if this is true then is unacceptable and stupid

    September 18, 2008 at 11:06 pm |
  17. Louise Cheah

    In response to this article, Randi Kaye said Todd Palin, husband of Sarah Palin is "Part Eskimo". The correct term is "Part Inuit. What century is CNN living in?

    – Louise Cheah
    Bedford, Nova Scotia

    September 18, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  18. sarah

    I can't say that am suprised at Todd Palin's refusal to testify. I mean it only proves that he obviously has something to hide. The government should not allow this injustice to be upheld any longer because it goes against the fundamentals of the Judicial system. Todd Palin should be treated like any ordinary citizen and be made to testify.

    September 18, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  19. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    And how much behind the scenes or not so behind the scenes involvement did Hillary have as First Lady of this nation? How much did she influence policy, support Bill, and impact what happened daily? And do you really expect Michelle Obama to sip tea, play hostess, and do charity work while her husband is in charge? Get real. Ditto for Cindy McCain. These are all strong women in their own rights.

    Healthy couples support each other in all aspects of their lives. As the spouse of a governor, Todd Palin gets to do whatever the governor allows him to do. So what if he helps her. I can't count the times my friends and family have helped me get through the day to day of school, work, and home. I cannot count the times my parents supported each other in their various business ventures, personal lives, and 36-year-old relationship when my mom died. It's what we as humans do for each other.

    More power to Alaska's First Dude for being a good spouse and father to his kids. Maybe if more men were like him, America would be a better place for everyone.

    September 18, 2008 at 10:42 pm |
  20. vic nashville,Tn

    Politicians never cooperate with any investigation !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This is called bipartition

    Anderson my wish is David Gergen should be our next president
    Smart man, Honest man, and very good understanding person
    I like his comments
    He Know what to talk, How to talk and when to talk
    Compare to Mc Cain and Obama David Gergen 1000% better

    September 18, 2008 at 10:37 pm |
  21. jrq La Habra, Ca.

    It seems that both Todd and his wife are never far from McCain and his wife. Strange how they are always together. OH, 'Juggling the cooking?' Come on, how much money does SHE make??????

    Give us normal woman a chance here.

    September 18, 2008 at 10:36 pm |
  22. Helen Murphy

    I thought the first dude as supposed to be staying home caring for their special needs baby. What happened? What's so important about him that he must be at Sarah's side constantly while she is campaigning with McCain. Is he running for VP too? Looks pretty awkward to me.

    September 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  23. Lisa

    If you can put the Alaskan check book on line why not hand over e-mails? I thought transparency was the Palins thing. He definately has something to hide.

    September 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  24. Annie Kate

    Sounds like a two for one package. Would Sarah operate the same way if she got to be Vice President? I realize spouses are always influential because of the tie of marriage but this seems to be a little much.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 18, 2008 at 10:10 pm |
  25. tom cassidy-florida

    I don't want this guy anywhere near D.C.

    September 18, 2008 at 10:05 pm |
  26. Julie San Diego, CA

    Hope you're having fun up there in the Land of the Midnight Sun, Randi!

    "When Todd Palin isn’t at his wife’s side on the campaign trail or at the legislature, the McCain campaign says he’s at home – juggling the cooking and carpooling for their five children."

    Maybe that's what all these career gals seem to like about Sarah Palin..

    I don't like my guys to wear aprons.

    September 18, 2008 at 10:03 pm |
  27. Kent, Illinois

    I guess it is ok to be the "first man" and be against the US as a whole huh? He wants Alaska to be on it's own. He must hate the US. Whatever happened to his patriotism?

    September 18, 2008 at 9:53 pm |
  28. Kent, Illinois

    How can Mr. Palin refuse to comply with a subpoena to testify? When do these people go to jail? In regular society we refuse a subpoena and we go to jail. The GOP learned all this crap from Rove who refuses subpoenas also. Send them all to jail until they decide to follow the law.............

    September 18, 2008 at 9:51 pm |
  29. Carl

    It's the dude and the dudd!!

    September 18, 2008 at 9:48 pm |
  30. Keith

    I'd imagine he's no different than Mrs. obama.

    September 18, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  31. c,ca

    I actually liked the Russian news organization's nickname for Sarah Palin: "Mrs. Nobody, Know-it-All, Shreiking Cow From Alaska". ( It's on their website – check it out.)

    Apparently they can see her from their house, too.

    September 18, 2008 at 9:23 pm |