Sarah Palin Emails: The Massachusetts Connection

Six months before being selected to be the Republican nominee for vice president in 2008, then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin received an email from an aide, the subject titled “interesting info. of Gov. Swift.” This is just one of about three dozen emails released by the state of Alaska on Friday with a reference to the Bay State.

“Gov. Swift,” of course, is Jane Swift, who served as acting governor of Massachusetts from 2001 through the beginning of 2003. The Republican from western Massachusetts did not run for the office in her own right in 2002. Many political observers say she was “bigfooted” by Mitt Romney, who won the nomination and the general election. Swift’s political demise caught the attention of Palin’s Deputy Press Secretary Sharon Leighow, who sent her boss this email on March 6, 2008:

By the end of her term, Swift was extremely unpopular with voters in the state (at one point having the dubious honor of a single-digit approval rating). This unpopularity was due in part to a perceived lack of effectiveness and in part to apparent abuses of her gubernatorial privileges, including: her use of a Massachusetts State Police helicopter to commute cross-state, from Boston to her home in North Adams; and, the use of State House aides to babysit her children.

About 30 minutes after receiving Leighow’s email, which presumably was sent following an inquiry by a reporter, Palin responded from her BlackBerry:

Pls remind Julia Omalley [Anchorage Daily News Columnist] that "they" said the same thing throughout my career- "too young", "pregnant", "kids"... "She won't be able to do it" [sic]... This coming from good of boys who don't like change... And so far along in my career we 've proved them wrong at each turn.

A few hours later, Palin followed up with another email to Leighow:

What poor decisions she made there. Please, just shoot me if you ever see me travel such a road.

Most of the other references to Massachusetts in the Palin emails seem to come from residents expressing support and encouragement. Gary Tobin of Hudson wrote to her in March of 2008:

Dear Governor,

Although I'm from Massachusetts and a supporter of Mitt Romney, after reading about you, I believe you would be the best candidate for Vice President. I know McCain has not asked anyone yet, but please do your best to put yourself in that position.

Thank you, a fan of yours,

And while Tobin was encouraging Palin to position herself to be McCain’s running mate, Tom Cashin of Charlemont sent an email to Palin in April of 2008, urging her to aim higher:

I have also heard that certain people want you to run for Vice President with John McCain but I think otherwise. I think you are to[sic] talented and to[sic] savvy to run for that post. Instead I think that you should run for President of the United States in 2008 or if you can in 2012.


This program aired on June 11, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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Steve Brown Senior Reporter/Anchor
Steve Brown is a veteran broadcast journalist who serves as WBUR's senior State House reporter.



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