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Palin leaves governor post

SARAH Palin stepped down as Alaska governor on Sunday with a fiery speech reminiscent of her days as running mate to Republican presidential candidate John McCain - when she frequently revved up crowds while attacking Democrats and the news media.

On Sunday, Palin took on old foes in the media, Hollywood and the Lower 48 states. As her audience shouted its approval, she scolded reporters for making things up, mocked Hollywood stars who have opposed wolf-control programs, and complained that "outside special interests still don't get it."

Palin, 45, said she was resigning with more than a year left in her first term to take her political battles to a larger if unspecified stage and avoid an unproductive, lame duck status.

"With this decision, now, I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right, and for truth. And I have never felt that you need a title to do that," the former vice presidential candidate said to raucous applause from about 5,000 people gathered on Sunday at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks.

Palin called her two-and-a-half years as governor a success, citing efforts to take on the state's long-dominant oil industry and progress on development of a natural gas pipeline. She also cited ethics reform, but said "ironically, it needs additional reform" to stop partisan and frivolous complaints such as those that have dogged her in the past year.

Palin leaves office with her political future clouded by ethics probes, mounting legal bills and dwindling popularity. She has been targeted by nearly 20 ethics complaints, most of which have been resolved in her favor. She did not refer directly to the ethics complaints in her 19-minute speech, but has repeatedly cited the financial and psychological toll of those investigations as a key reason she is stepping down.

Friend and foe alike have speculated that Palin may host a radio or TV show, launch a lucrative speaking career or seek higher office in Washington, D.C.

Palin hasn't ruled out any of those options, and her political action committee, SarahPAC, has raised more than US$1 million, said Meghan Stapleton, a spokeswoman for the committee and the Palin family.


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