Palin Blasts Critics, Remains Mum on 2012 Bid

Gov. Sarah Palin was coy about her presidential aspirations but criticized both President Obama and the Republican Party in her first interview since announcing she was stepping down as governor of Alaska.

Standing astride a fishing boat she would later climb aboard to haul in fishing nets and salmon, Palin expressed bitterness at bloggers who peppered her with ethics accusations, whom she said brought government in Alaska to a grinding halt.

"The critics want to put you on a course of personal bankruptcy, so you can't afford to serve," she said, calling the attacks "bull crap."

The governor made the remarks in an interview with FOX News in Dillingham, where she was fishing with her husband, Todd, and daughter Piper. Reporters from three other networks were also in attendance.

Watch the full interview on FOX News Channel at 9 a.m. ET

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Palin said she has started a legal defense fund to raise money for legal fees.

She said Obama is taking the country in the wrong direction, and while she wouldn't reveal her future plans, indicated she has fight left in her.

"Average, hard-working Americans need to be able to get out there, unrestrained, and fight for what is right," she said. "Fight for energy independence and national security, fight for a smaller government instead of this big government overgrowth that Obama is ushering in."

Palin also offered criticism of the Washington, D.C., political establishment, and even the Republican Party, which nominated her to be vice president last year.

"Obsessive partisanship" has hurt the party, she said, striking a more independent beat than the partisan tune she sang on the campaign trail.

"We have so many people who offer advice, but I'm going to continue to be, whether some of them like it or not, pretty darn independent, and not get wrapped up into a strong political machine that hasn't been extremely successful in some ways."

Palin also decried the state of the American media and said news coverage of her children was unfair.

"Most candidates, most public officials get to look into a camera and say, 'you better leave your hands off my kids,'" she said. "Well I haven't been able to say that. And that double standard that's been applied, that's been a little bit frustrating."

Asked if she wanted to be president, she repeated she did not know what her future holds.

"I want to work, right now, for people who are going to work either in office or out of office for the right things. Those principles that build up America, those who are inspired by the values of America, and will not deride or apologize for the values we hold as Americans."

Palin had cited attacks on her family and multiple ethics complaints that had forced her family to rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills. As a result, it's unlikely she'd run for president in 2012, suggested Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele.

"Not having talked to the governor, I take 2012 off the table right now simply because given everything she's going through personally, dealing with the financial mess that all these ludicrous investigations have put her and Todd in, at the moment, I think she's trying to focus on getting her house in order, her personal house in order," Steele told FOX News.

"I look forward to welcoming her out and helping us in our campaigns this fall if and when shes ready to do that. Sarah Palin will be the ultimate arbiter of when she will engage and how she will engage," he said.

As Palin spoke, she and her husband Todd Palin loaded four news crews into two small fishing boats and headed into Bristol Bay from Dillingham.

The Palin family -- Todd's sister, mother and father, as well as nieces and at least two children, had picked the journalists up at the airport in Dillingham and shuttled them to Bristol Bay in old pickup trucks and SUVs.

On the bay, Sarah Palin showed how they spent time each summer hauling up pre-placed nets, emptying them of captured salmon, and tossing them back into the water.

Todd Palin was all smiles as he captained the fishing boat in Bristol Bay out to nets filled with Sockeye.

He grew up commercial fishing these waters and Sarah Palin has been making the summer trip to Dillingham for many years. She joked that even though she's been helping her husband haul in fish for decades he still yells at her for doing it wrong. The governor and another hauler lifted the nets out of the water and pried the salmon out.

It was tough work. She wore rubber gloves, knee-high boots and waders.

This was a portrait of the moose hunter and folksy hockey mom that emerged soon after she was picked by Sen. John McCain to be his running mate.