The Sarah Palin FAQ.

Who's winning, who's losing, and why.
Sept. 4 2008 5:39 PM

The Sarah Palin FAQ

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Republican vice presidential nominee.

Read our complete coverage of the GOP Convention  and Sarah Palin.

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What's Palin's record on environmental issues?

The environmental Web site Grist.org has reported that she objected to listing polar bears or beluga whales as endangered in Alaska, fearing it might affect Alaskan drilling projects. She also voted against a proposition to limit mining where runoff would threaten salmon populations. She is outspoken about opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other offshore locations for oil drilling. The Sierra Club has condemned her advocacy for wolf hunting and her eagerness to drill throughout the state.

Does she oppose federal earmarks?

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Alaska has long been the recipient of astounding amounts of federal funding. While Palin slashed pork requests in half during her tenure, the state still requested $550 million in Palin's first year in office. This year she has requested about $198 million—$295 per person—which is still the highest amount per-capita in the country, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense. And when she was the mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired an Anchorage-based firm to secure $27 million in federal earmarks for the town.

Did she really stand up to big oil?

Palin's strategy in Alaska has been to expand oil production and to use the royalties to pay dividends for the state's citizens. Palin, whose husband worked for BP, endorsed Barack Obama's call for a windfall tax for oil companies. (John McCain says he opposes such a measure.) Her relationship with American oil firms like Exxon is less than cuddly, however. After a long negotiation process in 2006, she brokered a deal to build a pipeline between Alaska and the lower 48 with TransCanada, a Canadian company.

What is her record on ethics reform?

As governor, Palin signed ethics legislation limiting lobbyists' access to government officials and calling for more transparency in their dealings with Alaskan pols. As ethics commissioner of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, she accused a fellow Republican of illegally taking money from energy firms. (He later paid a large fine for his transgressions.) She has also reduced the perks of positions she's held personally: She put the governor's private jet up for sale on eBay and laid off her personal chef. As mayor of Wasilla, she cut her own salary.

BELIEFS AND VALUES

Does she believe in evolution?

Palin said in a 2006 debate that she supports teaching creationism alongside evolution in public schools on the grounds that "healthy debate is so important." She did not insist that creationism become a part of the curriculum. In the same debate, she said she believed in a creator and avoided an up-or-down stance on evolution.

What are Palin's views on abortion?

Palin has said she is "as pro-life as any candidate can be" and called abortion "an atrocity." She has supported mandatory parental consent, and while she is pro-contraception, has also indicated her preference for abstinence education over "explicit sex-ed programs." She would permit abortion in cases where the mother's life was endangered, but not in the case of rape or incest.

Does she believe in climate change?

Yes, but in an interview with Newsmax.com, she expressed doubts that human activity is to blame.

Is Palin's church anti-Semitic?

Palin belongs to the Wasilla Bible Church, a conservative evangelical congregation. Politico's Ben Smith recently uncovered a guest sermon from a Jews for Jesus representative who said attacks against Israel are proof that God judges those who deny Jesus as their savior. Smith also reported that Palin is friends with an Alaska rabbi who considers her "a friend of the Jews."

PERSONAL LIFE

Did Palin ask her daughter Bristol to get married before news broke that she was pregnant?

The National Enquirer seems to think so, but no other news organization has verified the claim. The McCain campaign has flatly denied the reports, and McCain spokesman Steve Schmidt has threatened legal action against the magazine.

Did Palin elope with her husband while pregnant with her first child?

It's possible, but we don't know for certain. Fox News' Alan Colmes reported that Palin's first-born son, Track, was born on April 20, 1989, almost eight months to the day after she eloped and married her husband, Todd, on August 29, 1988.

Did she fly all the way from Texas to Alaska this April after her water broke?

A Wall Street Journal profile reports that she first felt contractions before speaking at an energy summit in Dallas. Her doctor in Alaska told her to rest, but Palin carried on with the speech, rushed to the airport, got on a jet to Alaska, landed in Anchorage, then gave birth after driving 45 miles to a hospital in Palmer, Alaska.

Palin competed in beauty pageants in the early 1980s. What was her talent?

She played the flute.

What's her workout secret?

Running. Palin claims she likes to jog between seven and 10 miles every day; since giving birth to her fifth child in April, she's already worked her way up to three-mile runs. Her diet is "heavy in wild Alaskan seafood, moose, caribou and fresh fruit."

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at the Atlantic, where he oversees business coverage for TheAtlantic.com.

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