ANCHORAGE — In the days before Sarah Palin’s unveiling as Sen. John McCain’s running mate she was busy with the everyday business of governing. She approved future press requests and meetings at the Republican National Convention — meetings that she would later have to cancel — and received words of encouragement from supporters hoping she would be chosen as McCain’s vice presidential pick.
She did all of this while keeping her location — Arizona not Alaska — a secret even from some of her closest aides. Many members of her stunned staff wrote congratulatory notes to Palin once the news broke, some saying they watched her convention speech on television with tears in their eyes.
On August 27, the day Palin traveled by private jet to Arizona to meet the next day with McCain at his Sedona ranch, the governor’s press secretary, Bill McAllister, emailed Palin her schedule for the RNC.
The email was also sent to her scheduler, her deputy press secretary, and aide Kris Perry, the only Palin staffer who went with her to Arizona. The subject line of the email read: “current media itinerary in Minnesota” and includes a Newsweek breakfast, a spot on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” two Fox News segments, among others. McAllister also wrote that a PBS program “has canceled without explanation.”
That same day John Katz who worked in the State of Alaska’s Washington DC office emailed Palin and several staff members to alert them to an article published in Congressional Quarterly reporting that drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge didn’t make it into the Republican platform.
Despite support from platform writers it was seen as potentially undercutting McCain who was famously against drilling there. Palin, on the other hand, was and is a vocal supporter and it was one of the areas of disagreement between she and McCain.
Also on August 27, Palin sent a message to members of her staff asking them to announce Mike Nizich’s promotion from Acting Chief of Staff to Chief of Staff.
She ended the e mail with an enthusiastic, “Thanks Mike Nizich! WhooHoo!” When Nizich thanked his boss for the note, she replied, “Yeah right…Thank YOU!!!”
Later the same day, Palin’s scheduler, Janice Mason, emailed to say the governor had been invited to an event on Sept. 1. Not knowing if she would be chosen by McCain, Palin returned the messaging, writing: “If I am back though-yes, I’d love to do this!!!”
The next day — August 28 – was the day she would meet with McCain for just over an hour before being selected. That morning, her deputy press secretary, Sharon Leighow, emailed about a guest segment on CNN.
“Larry King would like to know if you are interested in talking about McCain’s VP choice tomorrow at 5p.m.” Leighow wrote, “If you would like me to pursue this, I can see if they can link up from the State Fair.”
She replied about 30 minutes later, “That should work. We’ll firm up tomorrow a.m. I need to juggle some things around.”
Meanwhile, a prophetic Alaska supporter emailed urging her to take the vice presidential slot if McCain offered it.
“I am convinced the only way possible for John McCain to win the Presidency is for you to be his running mate.” Lee Grothe writes, “Please reconsider running for vice president if it is even hinted at.”
The next day at 5:02AM Alaska time just as news was starting to break in the Lower 48 that Palin might indeed be McCain’s pick, Leighow emailed Palin with the subject line, “Are you still in AK?” (It’s clear even Leighow did not know that Palin had been gone since the 27.) The e mail went unreturned.
Once she was announced, Palin was inundated with congratulatory notes from staff, all surprised and ecstatic.
"You sure knew how to wake me up from a dead sleep this morning!" wrote aide Mindy Rowland. "You must have been busting at the seams wanting to tell us all…Tell Piper that she did great and that her hairstyle shows really good on TV :)."
"I'm telling Piper that right now!" Palin wrote back. "Thank you, I love you guys!"
Staffers Rosanne Hughes and Kelly Goode both wrote that Palin’s speech in Ohio brought tears to their eyes. Palin wrote back to Goode, “I love you!!!”
"Wow governor! Just watched you on TV!" wrote budget director Karen Rehfeld. "You knocked their socks off!"
"Can you believe it!” Palin wrote back, "He told me yesterday — it moved fast! Pray! I love you."
Palin’s Commissioner at the Department of Labor, Click Bishop, colorfully sent his congratulations along, “The cream always rises to the top god bless click”
Palin replied, “Thank you so much! Give Darlene a hug from me and Todd!
Despite the sudden and intense national interest, Palin still wanted to speak with the local Alaska press, even it was brief.
McAllister scheduled a press conference with her Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell to field questions about her nomination and she replied to the press release asking, “Should I call in for ONE minute?"