Palin Out, But Not Down

WASHINGTON -- Sarah Palin's successor sounded the official line Sunday to explain the Alaska governor's unexpected announcement she is retiring from political office. But Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell suggested the 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate won't disappear from the political scene.

"She has plenty of time now within which to define how she will further her core values," Parnell said on "FOX News Sunday." "She doesn't need a title to effect change and bring some hope to people who need it."

Palin announced Friday that she will step down as governor on July 26.  She cited the millions in state money being spent to deal with document requests and other matters and said she has personally accumulated a $500,000 debt defending herself. Fifteen ethics complaints filed against her so far have been dismissed.

Parnell, who will replace Palin at the end of the month when she leaves office, said Palin was clear about the toll that ethics investigations has taken on her.

"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, and I think she used the word insane in her -- in her remarks," he said.

Parnell added that Palin was tired of being dogged by the media and political opponents seeking to undo her.

"She became a national figure -- an international figure during the last presidential race. ... What that means is that she not only had the local press after her, the local party after her, she had the national -- national candidates, national party, after her -- international, perhaps, even," Parnell said.

Palin was Sen. John McCain's surprise choice for his Republican vice presidential nominee last fall. The former beauty queen and mother of five was pummeled during the race -- with vicious rumors ranging from her lying about the birth of her fifth child to cover her daughter's pregnancy to her having a secret affair with McCain.

After the election, she faced down ill-conceived jokes about her daughters and more ethics probes.

On Sunday, Palin tweeted that she was going to make an "attempt to keep up w/attaching corrected info."

"Critics are spinning, so hang in there as they feed false info on the right decision made as I enter last yr in office to not run again," reads another message on her Twitter page.

Palin's sudden and unexpected departure has sent political observers into a frenzy over whether she is a master strategist or merely has a screw loose.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a potential presidential rival to Palin, said Sunday Palin's announcement doesn't make sense in a conventional political setting. On the other hand, Palin has never been a conventional candidate.

Huckabee added that her abrupt resignation won't help her dodge scrutiny.

"It could be a brilliant strategy. The point is we don't know. It's risky in that there's no forgone conclusion as to whether it will play out," Huckabee asked.

Her rival during the last election -- Vice President Joe Biden -- also didn't have an explanation, but said he'd take her at her word.

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

Biden said he didn't think Palin was a victim of political blood sport.

"It maybe had a lot to do with what the state of their life was, and the state of their family, et cetera. So I'm not going to second-guess her," he said. "I take her at her word that it had a personal ingredient and you have to respect that."

Palin remains a potent figure in Republican politics. She 6yhad previously been cited as a top pick for a 2012 GOP presidential bid. A recent poll showed she was a first choice for 73 percent of Republican voters surveyed.

Huckabee, who ran for president in 2008 and could try again, said her announcement raised more questions than it answered, but he remains a fan and continues to believe she can be a viable candidate.

But, he said, her reason for resigning will be a liability for her if she seeks the White House.

"If that had been the case for me, I would've quit in my first month," said Huckabee. If she's looking to be a national political figure, it's not going to get easier, he said.