WASHINGTON, July 5, 2009 -- Republican leaders say they're just as baffled as everyone else by Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's sudden resignation, announced outside her home in Wasilla last Friday.
Karl Rove said today that GOP leaders were "a little perplexed" and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said it was "astounding."
Several prominent Republicans have also questioned whether the 2008 vice presidential candidate was setting up an unconventional presidential run. But they questioned how stepping down now would help her in three years.
"If this is geared for her run for the presidency in 2012, it is one of the most politically tone deaf decisions that we've seen," said Stuart Roy, a Republican consultant.
"I would think, if you want to run for president -- and I'm not sure that's got anything to do with what she's doing -- that the forum of a governorship would be a better forum than just being a private citizen," Grassley said today.
A former aide to Sen. John McCain called Palin's decision, "one more odd decision in a series of odd decisions" that play into a negative image of the soon-to-be former governor.
Regardless of whether she plans to run for president in 2012, Palin has made it clear she will vigorously protect her image.
After reports that she resigned because of a supposedly pending federal embezzlement investigation, her lawyers called those reports false and warned in a letter to the media, "This is to provide notice ... that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law."
An FBI spokesman today told The Anchorage News that Palin is not under investigation. Such an announcement is unusual, but the spokesman told the newspaper that in this case the FBI felt it important to quash the rumors.
"We are not investigating her," FBI spokesman Eric Gonzalez told the News. "Normally we don't confirm or deny those kind of allegations out there but by not doing so it just casts her in a very bad light. There is just no truth to those rumors out there in the blogosphere."
The man who will succeed Palin is taking her at her word that she's resigning to protect her family and to save the state money on defending her against harassing legal probes.
"It was costing just about $2 million of state taxpayers' dollars just to fund the staff to deal with the records requests and the like, and that -- that was just over the top," Alaska Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell said.
Since she broke the news Friday, Palin has largely disappeared from the national stage, only briefly stopping by a Fourth of July parade in Juneau.
Palin Ramps Up Activity on Twitter and Facebook
Despite keeping a low profile in personal appearances, Palin has been active on social networking sites.
On Saturday, Palin posted a thank-you letter to her Facebook page, and later, on her Twitter page, explaining the reasons for her resignation, and ending with a rallying cry.
"For months now, I have consulted with friends and family, and with the Lieutenant Governor, about what is best for our wonderful state. ... We have accomplished so much and there's much more to do, but my family and I determined after prayerful consideration that sacrificing my title helps Alaska most," it read.
"I am now looking ahead and how we can advance this country together with our values of less government intervention, greater energy independence, stronger national security, and much-needed fiscal restraint," the letter read.
"I hope you will join me," it said. "Now is the time to rebuild and help our nation achieve greatness! God bless you! And I look forward to making a difference -- with you!"
Palin Dogged by Alaska Ethics Complaints
And while Palin said defending herself against ethics complaints in Alaska has cost the state around "two million dollars" and would cost her and her husband "more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight," she may continue to do it for free on Twitter.
"Critics are spinning, so hang in there as they feed false info," she tweeted Sunday morning.