From Kyle Hopkins in Anchorage --
Gov. Sarah Palin returned to work in Downtown Anchorage today, stopping for a round of questions in her office lobby ...
Part one: The anonymous accusations, the clothes, the media
Part two: Sexism, Ted Stevens, Troopergate
From Sean Cockerham in Anchorage --
Sarah Palin came back to work at the governor's office in Anchorage this afternoon for the first time since she became a candidate for vice president more than two months ago. She was greeted by staffers and a scrum of local and national media gathered in the lobby. (Kyle Hopkins is working on video.)
The governor talked about her future role in national politics, her rocky relationship with Democrats and the anonymous criticism from McCain staffers who claimed she went on a shopping spree with Republican Party money and didn't know that Africa is a continent rather than a country.
"If there are allegations based on questions or comments I made in debate prep about NAFTA, about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context. And that's cruel, it's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it taking things out of context, then tried to spread something on national news," Palin said.
Here's what she said about the much-discussed clothing:
"We know that for instance with the whole clothes issue -- the RNC-purchased clothes -- those are the RNC's clothes, they are not my clothes. I never forced anybody to buy anything. I never asked for anything more than maybe a diet Dr Pepper every once in a while."
"It's just very, very disappointing because this is Barack Obama's time right now and this is an historic moment in our nation and this can be a shining moment for America in our history. And look what we're talking about again, we're talking about my shoes and belts and skirts. This is ridiculous."
Palin said she didn't know if she'd try to go for vice president or president in 2012. She said her presence on the national stage going forward would be about the state, not about furthering her own interests.
"My participation on a national level, it will all have to do with what it is that Alaska needs and how Alaska can progress and contribute to the U.S.," Palin said.
Palin said she's confident she can still work with Alaska Democrats, despite the bad blood that came from comments such as the one about President-elect Barack Obama palling around with terrorists. She said she has not become partisan.
"I don't know why (anyone would say that) except that I ran for vice president, with a presidential candidate, ran on a ticket...of a party that I've been part of since I was 18. Nothing has changed there, my values, my convictions, my ability to work with Democrats, independents and Republicans all together has never changed.
"So if there's criticism that all of a sudden I've changed and become an obsessive partisan, then it's not accurate criticism."