September 19th, 2008
01:42 PM ET

Todd Palin: 'first dude' or 'shadow governor?'

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/POLITICS/09/19/todd.palin/art.tpalin.jpg caption="Critics want to know why Todd Palin was copied on hundreds of state e-mail correspondence."]

Randi Kaye
AC360° Correspondent

He's the man Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin affectionately calls 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.

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.

He's worked in Alaska's oil industry and as a fisherman. But in recent times, he's had another role. Some call him the "Shadow Governor."

In government circles and among the family's acquaintances, Todd Palin is known as his wife's greatest adviser and most loyal protector. One family friend said, "Todd is incredibly supportive and is willing to do whatever it takes to help Sarah."

Todd may appear quiet, almost shy, but he's made quite an impression on his wife's running mate, Sen. John McCain. On the campaign trail this month in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, McCain said, "He's not afraid of Washington, D.C.! He can take them on!"

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


Filed under: Randi Kaye • Raw Politics • Sarah Palin
soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. Joe

    They "The Republicans" are the ones that are "Out Of Touch". Robin Williams could have delivered Palin’s speech with the same eloquence and if dressed up in a dress with “lipstick” he would also have generated the same kind of excitement….. However he would not have had the audacity to ride on the hype generated to further throw the nations economy and working class citizens into the toilet.
    For the past 8 years we have watched our Government be and act "above the law". on countless issues.

    September 19, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  2. jacque

    Todd is not running for any position and he should have to answer for his wrong doing in Alaska. If they had nothing to hide then why won't they comply. They appear to be guilty of the abuse of power and caused that man his job for no reason.

    September 19, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  3. kmack

    Thanks but no thanks Sarah.

    September 19, 2008 at 6:07 pm |
  4. Ray

    Give the dude a break, he never asked for all of this and didn't have the slightest idea that he would be highlighted on the intl. platform. Todd and his wife made a bad decision when thay agreed to accept the offer to run as VP. They had no idea that they would get caught up in an arena of microscopic scrunity, and right now they are lost. Remember they are from a remote state with a few thousand people.. I am certain they regret their decision. The problem lays on the genius who proposed an oportunity that very few ambitious person would refused.

    September 19, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  5. Scott

    Interesting how the article doesn't mention the "Shadow President" role that first lady Hillary Clinton involvement in Bill's administration...including her failed attempt to force working Americans to pay for the lazy through socialized medicine. She was and is more of a threat than Todd Palin will ever be.

    I guess we know which side Randi Kaye is on...

    September 19, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  6. Sophia

    IF someone's wife is running on how she cleaned up corruption in her state, then shouldn't her husband have nothing to hide... perhaps all this talk of maverick like shaking things up, is just firing people to secure your power and not to fight corruption....hmmm... that is what Sadam did, Hitler did, and all power hungry egomaniacs... me thinks that even the little power in Alaska they got went to the Palins' heads.

    September 19, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  7. BD

    The next administration will inherit the country in a much worse shape than Bush in 2000. We need someone with intelligence and good education to run stop the country from sliding to abyss. Neither McCain nor Palin qualify. All this "maverick" and "pitt bull" talk is just words. We have had an incompetent administration, one more and the who economy goes under.

    September 19, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  8. Lars, Kodiak AK

    I've got a dilemma, I sure would like to see the Palin's out of our state government, but heck I don't want to see them as co-vice president.

    September 19, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  9. Bren

    He is a husband protecting his WIFE & FAMILY–not the mayor–not the governor–not the VP candidate–HIS WIFE!!! God bless him! I'm sorry that you don't have someone in your life who does that for you! My husband is very protective of me especially when someone threatens my well being.

    You should stick to legitimate reporting and lay off the personal stuff–it's downright pathetic!

    September 19, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  10. Sandy

    The correct term is Inuit, not Eskimo. Which doesn't change the fact that his refusal to honour a subpoena is simple civil disobedience. The reason is irrelevant. That her staff is refusing as well on the basis that they feel their loyalty to their employer overrides their responsibility to the state, is laughable.

    September 19, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  11. JJ

    People refuse to respond to subpoenae all the time, for perfectly legitimate and lawful reasons. It's often called a motion to quash. In no way does is "directly violate the law" to file such motion. If the subpoena itself is unlawful, then quashing same is the lawful, and correct, decision for the court to make.

    And yes, both sides of the political spectrum make such motions.

    September 19, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  12. Jan from Wood Dale IL

    Couples that have a good relationship tend to communicate about all sorts of things. Politics is not normally a 9 to 5 job, so if Sarah and Todd, John and Cindy, Barack and Michelle, and Joe and Jill talk about their jobs, the decisions they need to make, their travel schedules, etc. WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT?

    If those who believe in Obama's change begins from the ground up philosophy, I would think that having one's spouse being informed wouldn't bother you. Don't you want us all to be completely informed by our elected officials?

    I'm guessing it was based on the advice of an attorney that Todd Palin in not responding to the subpeona. Also, this is a commission not a court of law.

    September 19, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  13. tom cassidy-florida

    If you have nothing to hide testify. Why did he contact the fired commissioner over two dozen times prior to his firing ? Why does he sit in on state business meetings? Why is he copied on state business memos? Why was he a member of a separtist party until his wife was elected mayor? Who is really running Alaska? I don't want this "first dude" anywhere near D.C.!

    September 19, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  14. Ray

    I've been a Republican all my life, but this couple scares the hell out of me. Why would McCain make the comment that Todd Palin is "not afraid of Washington D.C.", I thought he had selected Sarah as his running mate rather than her husband? C'mon the poor guy doesn't even have a college degree and McCain needs to have his head examined for selecting someone like the Palins to succeed him once he is dead. We don't need another President in the White House who is dim-witted.

    September 19, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  15. Judy Willis

    I thought if you refused to show ,That you were in contempt
    what would happen if everyone did this .they are law breakers.
    I am sick of a republican govenment that does whatever they want , Rove,cheney,the whole bunch this has been a very courupt administration,and now McCain is starting out with the same old thing
    they think laws are sor everyone , but them.

    September 19, 2008 at 4:36 pm |
  16. carol kesling

    if tod is so honest let him answer the questions,she will lie and he will swear to it !!!!!!! god, what does take to see through this facade???? this is not alaska,this is the u.s.!!!! we dont need another war right now....

    September 19, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  17. lampe

    There are many of us, who don't think Michelle, has what it takes to be first lady, so maybe we should be talking about the shadow, that she cast over the Obama campaign.

    September 19, 2008 at 4:35 pm |
  18. David Likins

    Randi's journalistic effort is noteworthy but needs a comparison to be germaine. I was wondering if Randi could compare the # of emails that Todd got from his wife and others in the Alaska government to the # that were sent directly to or cc'd to Hillary Clinton when she was first lady. That sort of information would let one understand whether this reporter really found anything useful in his long trek to Alaska or not!

    Of course we are leaving out the "pillow talk coversations".

    September 19, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  19. William-Georgia

    Well now that First Dude will not comply with the subpoena and Queen Sarah will not cooperate with the investigation she endorsed as governor, the McCain camp has now lost their moral standing to argue that they are reformers and advocates of transparent government.

    McCain-Palin and Rove live by our own rules and the rest of America is subject to the law.

    COUNTRY FIRST!!!!!!!

    September 19, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
  20. Lou

    Because of politics this issue had turned into a trial by media event. To think that it all started with–"I think I was fired..."– by a disgruntled fired employee.

    Let us remember that one is innocent until proven guilty. In this situation though–there is no case until they have establihed a basis. The burden is on the accusser. The accusser have yet to prove that the reason for his firing was not legitimate.

    For instance–is being insubordinate enough reason to fire him? And what else did he do or did not do? Shouldn't the fired employee be investigated first? The burden is on him to prove that he has a case. And definitely not by just saying_-"I think..."

    I don't see anything wrong with Mr. and Mrs Palin confiding with each other. The Clintons do it too. What is wrong with that?

    September 19, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  21. Scott

    Why did Govoner Palin get elected as chair of the Alaska's Oil and Gas Conservation comission when she had no previous experience in that field. Hmm, was it because her husban held a managment postion with BP? If Todd does not have such an influence, then why was Sarah Palin given such a position? How did she go from sports commentator to small town mayor (leaving that town in futher in debt even after introducing a sales tax) to chair of Alaska's Oil comission?

    September 19, 2008 at 4:05 pm |
  22. Sandy, Arkansas

    The Troopergate probe is a waste as far as I am concerned. I personally do not care if this guy was pressured to fire Wooten or not. He shouldn't have had to have been. A trooper who used a taser on a child (not to mention other things he was written up for doing) doesn't need to be a trooper. Integrity and good judgment should be a prerequisite to being a trooper. If that was brought to the attention of his superiors it was the right thing to do. Trooper Wooten admits some of the accusations. If I were governor and heard a trooper had done any of those things I would be talking to his superiors to find out why he hadn't been fired. This is a political witch hunt and it needs to be forgotten. I know little about Palin but I can say that I feel I would have pursued riding my state of troopers such as Wooten if I had been the Governor. Any rational and law abiding citizen should.

    September 19, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  23. Lara

    Let see Cindy goes everywhere with John, Sarah goes everywhere with Todd. Does that mean there will be four chairs in the oval office.

    September 19, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  24. karrie, MD

    Todd Palin doesn't have time to answer subpoenas, he running for co-VP. He's out there on the campaign trail, in all the photo ops, signing autographs, tagging along behind his wife and McCain. Doesn't he have a job? Oh that's right, he took a leave of absense to watch the kids. He must have very long arms.

    September 19, 2008 at 3:44 pm |
  25. Larry

    And on the refusing to respond to a subpoena. That is incorrect. There has been no subpoena. The investigation is being conducted a group not authorized under Alaskan state law to run the investigation. It is to be run the the Alaskan Personnel Board per state law and is being run by a group democratic state congressmen and women.

    Gov. Palin has said she and her husband will cooperate when it being handled by the correct authroized people

    September 19, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  26. kay buffum

    Since you are talking about Mr. Palin's influence why was there no mention about his long time membership in the Alaskan Independence Party.

    I think Mrs. Palin's supporters know what they stand for.

    September 19, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  27. Clarence, Albuquerque

    It is curious that Mr. Palin was present at some of those meetings and that he was privy to the e-mails. I didn't quite understand who this information was acquired.

    September 19, 2008 at 3:41 pm |
  28. Larry

    Yes, and? Seems like the same article could be and was written about Hillary Clinton and Bill and Barack and Michelle? Even down to the non participation in an investigation. Does Whitewater ring a bell? If we want to talk about hiding, let's get full discloser on that and Rezko, and Ayers, and the Annenberg Challenge, and his meetings in Iraq....

    And all this over a State Trooper who still has his job?

    September 19, 2008 at 3:38 pm |
  29. Melissa, Los Angeles

    That's scary he's that involved with Sarah's job as Governor. Does that mean Sarah can't think on her own without having him chime in on everything she does?

    September 19, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  30. Jean Harold

    Todd Palin's refusal to respond to a subpeona, in direct violation of the law, demonstrates the rule of law is unimportant to him, and apparently to her. We've had almost 8 years of that same disdain of the law by the executive branch. Have we not had enough problems with Republican leadership and the contempt it has demonstrated for the courts, congress, the truth and the people? No more.

    September 19, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  31. Celiene

    Why has no one glommed on the fact that McCain is touting TODD's ability to take on Washington and "He's Not Afraid"??? Is Todd running, now? WHY is he even on the stage WITH the candidates? Are we now expected to vote for a Pres a Veep & and a VeeVeep? McCain MUST be aware of Todd Shadow status – otherwise why would he be touting TODD'S abilities to "take on Washington" while Sarah stands in the background and cheers her husband as the next VeeVeep??? Is he in line for a Cabinet post? An ambassadorship? An Advisor?

    Anderson – I'm going crazy! This is BIG – I want to see the entire video of that particular rally – where is it? THIS is the thing that needs to be highlighted – whay is TODD a part of ANYTHING other than to stand in the audience and look lovingly at his wife – like all good spouses. He never gives a speech like Michelle – or Cindy for that matter – which is OK and expected that they would give speeches. He just stands around – absorbing, watching and monotoring. It's all very scary and surreal.

    AND Who is watching those poor children they paraded on stage at the convention? Who is watching poor Trig – who they passed around like a prize at a state fair during the convention? WHERE are their 'family values'?

    September 19, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  32. KK

    Oh come on! when Hilary was running for President you all commented on whether Bill 'at home' was a good thing...vote for Hilary, vote for Bill. When she was a possible VP it was the same.

    Now you've a complete political novice who sends 100's of state business e-mails to her husband!

    "oh Todd honey, do you think we should invade IRAQ? ... hell yeah'

    September 19, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  33. gail riley

    Check out Palins home town protest today. 1400 strong and counting. I only wish I was there to join them. Today on CNN, talks about the 10 paid off hungry, homeless blacks that protested while Obama gave his speech. What about the 1400 protesting Sara Palin. There are people like Donna Barzil pointed out yesterday who need real help. Their homes are gone. They are standing on long lines for food and water. Can someone please talk about them. The Palin McCain are to petty and lies to much. Can we move on. They will never tell the truth. If America is to racist to stand by a good man then vote for the crap known as Palin-McCain. The hell with it.

    September 19, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  34. michigj

    I thought this was a great article ... up until I got to the last sentence. What the heck is that supposed to mean? I don't know whether it's referring to Todd or Sarah – but either way, it undermines the rest of the article, in my view.

    September 19, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  35. vince di pierro Los Angeles CA

    Maybe we should all do what Todd Palin did about the subpoena and just ignore them. Right! What make's him above the law? Now I see where Sarah gets her " I'm invinceable" attitude. Throw the guy in jail! What makes him so special?

    September 19, 2008 at 2:58 pm |
  36. Greg L.

    Two words: "The Clintons." One more word: "Co-presidency."

    September 19, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  37. Tony

    Its all right if Sarah wants her husband Todd to be a part of her team as a candidate for vp. It seems, as reporters have indicated, he's instrumental in her policy decisions. If that's the case, however, the American people need to know exactly where HE stands on the issues as well. The way I'm reading it is Todd makes up his wifes mind. That explains his sitting in on gov't meetings and getting copies of state e-mails. And, when I say issues I'm not talking about Dem bashing as the republican campaign has interpreted the issues to be. Lets hear from Todd. Care to comment Todd...

    September 19, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  38. Deirdre

    "Todd has made quite an impression on Senator McCain..."

    I guess if you're impressed with Senator McCain, this could be something to really feel good about. On the other hand, if you're not impressed, it doesn't mean much.

    September 19, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  39. Charlotte D

    Oh goody, another "two-fer."

    September 19, 2008 at 2:44 pm |
  40. Shannon

    Shadow Governor? Really?

    Look, Obama is back up in the polls. You can stop trying to tear her family down now.

    September 19, 2008 at 2:39 pm |
  41. AJ

    Hi Randi,

    I read your article about Sarah Palin's "First Dude" and noticed that you indicate that Todd Palin is "part Eskimo". Really? I thought he was part "Native Alaskan"...there's a big difference. This was the first time I read/heard that he was "part Eskimo" and was wondering if that was really true.

    September 19, 2008 at 2:36 pm |
  42. Jeff in Los Angeles

    Husband under scrutiny because proper vetting wasn't done. Shades of 1984???

    September 19, 2008 at 2:24 pm |
  43. Cathie

    Can he pronunce nuclear ? If so, let's repace the VP nominee!

    September 19, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  44. Maureen/CA

    It is not exactly a compliment that McCain is impressed with Todd Palin. I watched this news segment last night on CNN. I think that it is just very odd and unprofessional that this man constantly tags along. Can anyone out there imagine bringing their spouse to work to just sit and watch. Very strange. It is completely understandable that Palin would want to discuss work with her husband, as we all do. But to bring him along to her place of employment is just odd.

    September 19, 2008 at 2:23 pm |
  45. Lesley

    This is more Bush politics. McCain picked the perfect running mate. She's already experienced in the ways of the Bush administration and will fit right in with Republican style government. Will the First Dude be at her side in the White House should they get elected? What are his qualifications? How many VP candidates does John McCain get to choose? It is clear that an attempted cover up is in progress. How can the procedure be tainted when 6 of the 10 members of the investigative team are Republicans? They are stalling until after the election and the media should be doing a full court press on this issue because it speaks to the transparency that both candidates are promising in this election.

    September 19, 2008 at 2:16 pm |
  46. Dan Stewart

    Apparently he also thinks he is running for the VP spot since he now claims immunity from the subpoena into "Troopergate".
    The unwillingness of Palin to come clean over this is very much reminiscent of Cheney-Bush, so it fits in very well with the McCain campaigns message of "4 more years"

    September 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  47. JC- Los Angeles

    In light of the horrendous example put forth by our nation's leaders, executives and politicians, it seems a bit refreshing to hear about someone like Todd Palin.

    A decent, honest, hard working guy who loves his family; imagine that.

    September 19, 2008 at 2:04 pm |
  48. Heather,Ca

    I'm a Dem who has decided not to vote for anyone this election. Usually,I never have a single negative thing to write,but I just see no story here. I know you are just doing your job.But think about this, if Palin had said no to McCain you wouldn't be spending time in Alaska getting the nitty gritty of the dynamics of the Palin relationship. We wouldn't be talking about it. It would simply stay in Alaska where it belongs. I don't like Palin for political reasons but I even know when a subject is simply not worth it. This is one of those times. This is petty and more gossipy than worth real journalism. I know you are just doing your job and there isnt much known about them,but this isnt worth knowing.

    September 19, 2008 at 2:03 pm |
  49. Brenda Harris

    What happened to the part that said he was part of an organization the wanted to break from the US; Meaning he was not always putting country first. It seems Alaska has had a hand out while not wanting to be a part of us.

    September 19, 2008 at 1:58 pm |
  50. cindy

    Yeah but when it comes to cooperating with the law he shuts the door on their face!

    They're both very scary! How can both of these people be allowed to REFUSE to cooperate with the invetigation if they have nothing to hide??


    September 19, 2008 at 1:57 pm |
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