'Not Politics as Usual': Analysts Struggle With Palin's Motivations

Is Palin making an unconventional move toward a 2012 run -- or dodging trouble?

ByABC News
July 4, 2009, 8:30 AM

July 4, 2009 — -- What in the world does Sarah Palin have in mind?

Politicians and analysts have been scrambling to make sense of Palin's sudden and unexpected announcement Friday that she will resign as governor of Alaska at the end of the month -- an announcement that gave only conflicting hints about her true motivation or future plans.

"I don't know if there's gonna be another shoe to drop," said Stuart Rothenberg of the Rothenberg Political Report. "But this one wasn't merely a shoe. It was a boot and it landed with a thud."

Todd Purdum, political correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, said, "The one predictable thing about her is unpredictability."

Appearing on ABC News' "Good Morning America," Purdham said, "I think on some level, she was sick of the whole thing."

A source close to Palin told ABC News that the resignation was purely a decision about Alaska and has no bearing on whether she will later decide to pursue another political office.

"She just made a decision not to run for re-election in Alaska and decided to stop the vindictiveness and legal fees" of persistent ethics complaints she's fended off, the source said. "You can argue with that choice, but it's what she decided."

The source insisted there is no scandal she's avoiding.

Rather, Palin has a number of "unbelievable opportunities" she can pursue, the source said, adding that Palin will finish a book, which is already being written, in the spring of 2010. She will raise money for candidates, raise money for charities and give speeches.

"Then she will decide what to do for 2012," the source said. "She has made no decision on 2012."

In an exclusive interview with "This Week" to air Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden, Palin's 2008 election rival, dismissed her complaint that she'd been the subject of a "political blood sport," but said he accepted her explanation that her resignation was personal.

"Those who've been deeply involved in politics know at the end of the day that it is really and truly a personal deal," Biden said, "and personal family decisions have a real impact on people's decisions."

Some see Palin's move as a part of her strategy to run for president in 2012 or capitalize on her celebrity status to benefit the Republican Party.

Soon after she made her announcement, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele touted her qualifications saying, "She is an important and galvanizing voice in the Republican Party. I believe she will be very helpful to the Party this year as we wage critical campaigns in Virginia and New Jersey."

However, a former McCain-Palin campaign official, speaking on condition of anonymity, doubted Palin's prospects for a successful run at the party's nomination in 2012.

"She has become a damaging figure on the Republican stage," said the campaign official. "There's been no one handling her for eight to nine months, and when you saw this [resignation on Friday] it was incoherent. And that's not this party's answer to Barack Obama and getting on its feet."

Rothenberg had a similar take.

"The criticism has been that she's rather thin in the resume, and [that] she doesn't seem particularly serious or thoughtful," he said. "This kind of act, I think, only adds to that impression. It doesn't help her redefine herself."