Correction to This Article
This article incorrectly identified a mother and daughter who were in the maternity ward at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center at the same time Sarah Palin was there delivering her baby, Trig. The mother is Jennifer Krueger of Wasilla, Alaska, who gave birth to daughter Haylee Davison.
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Palin's Family Has Always Held a Place in Her Politics

Palin fired Monegan in mid-July. His replacement, the former Kenai police chief, lasted just two weeks, resigning after a previous sexual harassment complaint surfaced that had slipped by the governor's vetters.

John Cyr, executive director of the Public Safety Employees Association, which represents Alaska's law enforcement officers, said the governor's grudge against Wooten clouded her judgment and led her to hold down trooper salaries and other funding.

"The trooper budget was held hostage because they wouldn't fire Mike Wooten," Cyr said.

An investigation of Monegan's firing ordered by the state legislature complicated Palin's arrival on the national stage.

Palin's allusion to her dual role as "hockey mom" and "pit bull" in her convention speech struck a chord in Alaska, where several political observers noted how long the nickname "Sarah Barracuda" survived beyond her high school basketball years. Along with a public gift for retail politics, Palin privately displays a steely brand of righteous judgment, they said.

Baptized at age 12 by the Assembly of God church she attended with her mother, Palin often said her solidly conservative views on social issues were guided by religious belief. "Her faith wasn't a fad for her. That was very clear," said the Rev. Paul Riley, who founded the church in the 1950s. "When I baptized her, she gave a clear testimony of her faith in Christ."

When Todd's stepmother, Faye Palin, ran in 2002 for the mayoral job Palin was vacating, the incumbent withheld her endorsement. Locals noted that her mother-in-law supported abortion rights.

And last year she fired her top legislative aide, John Bitney, after he confessed to an affair with the wife of a friend of Todd's.

"When you fall out of favor with Palin, it's a pretty quick off-with-your-head," said Persily, the former aide. Bitney went to school with Sarah Palin and worked in her gubernatorial campaign before following her to the governor's office. He now serves as chief of staff to the speaker of the state House. He said he blames himself for surprising his former boss.

"Her Christianity is an important part of her and what she represents, and then that, combined with personal relationships -- she said, 'You disappointed me. You weren't forthright with me,' " said Bitney, now married to the woman with whom he had the affair.

* * *

The episode that has generated the most stubborn questions about Palin remains her account of Trig's birth. She and Todd were in Houston in April, a month before the child was due. Palin said she awoke around 4 a.m. to find amniotic fluid leaking and some mild contractions.

She did not seek medical treatment but said she consulted with her Wasilla doctor by telephone that day. She also delivered a lunch speech to the energy conference of a Republican governors group, giving no clue of her medical condition.

Then the couple headed for the airport. They changed planes in Dallas and again in Seattle, and landed in Anchorage at 10:30 p.m. local time. Then came the 45-mile drive to the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, where Trig was delivered at 6:30 a.m.

Six pounds, two ounces.

To a curious nation, Palin's account inspired astonishment, as well as an Internet rumor -- that the governor had rushed home not to deliver her own child, but to pretend to deliver her daughter's -- that was so powerful the McCain campaign said it was announcing Bristol's condition to knock it down.

But Alaskans had been content with Palin's explanation, offered to reporters at her Anchorage office, where she showed up for work with baby in tow three days after his birth.

"She loves Alaska," said Haylee Davison, who delivered a daughter the same day and watched her governor pace the hospital hallways to encourage labor. "She wanted her son to be born here, not Texas."

Staff writer Kimberly Kindy and research editor Alice Crites in Washington contributed to this report.

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