But the governor, just six months on the job, quickly learned the limits of her powers. The Matanuska Maid creamery ended up closing
anyway, unable to recover from massive financial losses.
Palin’s efforts to save the business are outlined in a cache of more than 13,000 e-mails released Friday from her abbreviated tenure as Alaska’s governor, including much, though not all, of the electronic communications that Palin and her aides exchanged during her first two years in office.
The e-mails provide a revealing look at an ambitious rookie politician finding her way in the corridors of power, from small-town mayor turned governor to the surprise pick as running mate to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). They also provide hints of the kind of chief executive that Palin might become if she were to choose to make a run for the White House and were able to secure her party’s nomination and defeat President Obama.
The messages underscore Palin’s role as a sincere budget-cutter and an opponent of pork-barrel spending, an issue with particular resonance nationally. She appears eager to do battle with her political opponents, while remaining fiercely protective of those loyal to her. She was also willing to take actions, such as the creamery bailout, that may have made sense for Alaska but might raise hackles among fellow conservatives across the country.
The documents also illustrate a number of downsides to Palin as a potential Republican candidate: her preoccupation with negative media coverage from even the smallest of sources; her complaints about the job and the outside world’s lack of appreciation of her accomplishments; and an obsessive focus on a handful of gadflies that she seems unable to let go of.
“This is someone who has a good sense of everyday life, and that’s what’s good about being a governor of a small state. You are in touch with the rhythms of everyday life, and if you are looking at a candidate who is able to relate, that is a good reference point,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic strategist and consultant.
“The flip side of it is the enormous sensitivity to how she is being portrayed and that would only be magnified with a national campaign,” Lehane said. “She would likely be anti-press and avoid interacting with objective, mainstream outlets.”
After taking office in December 2006, Palin at first appears hesitant in her approach to the myriad and complex issues that face any governor, hunting around for basic information about state policies and seeking detailed advice from aides, according to the e-mails. She showers praise on her subordinates and is thrilled after a succession of early political victories.