Sarah Palin changed after her failed run for the vice presidency, and the father of her grandson thinks it’s because the fame she had enjoyed as a candidate for the second-highest office in the land went to her head.
“Being up there and running for vice president, that’s totally different than governor — cameras every day, she had Secret Service, you name it. And just seeing how she acted after it was all gone, I just think that it definitely got to her head,” Levi Johnston told TODAY’s Ann Curry Monday in New York.
The 19-year-old father of Bristol Palin’s 7-month-old son, Tripp, expressed admiration for Palin, but he also said she hasn’t been totally forthcoming about her reasons for quitting Alaska’s governorship in midterm. Her last day in office will be July 26. Nor, he said, would he vote for her if she ran for president.
“Does the American public have an accurate view of Sarah Palin?” Curry asked the dark-haired Johnston, who dressed for his appearance on TODAY in an earth-tone sweater with argyle patches paired with blue jeans.
“For the most part,” he said. “She speaks her mind. She’s an incredible lady. There are times she’s not up-front with everybody, but for the most part she is.”
Curry asked for examples.
“Just like she said she’s resigning from governor ’cause she wants to spend more time with her family — that kind of thing,” Johnston replied in his signature laconic style. “She’s throwing things out there, but there’s a few things she doesn’t mention.”
One of those things is money, Johnston has been saying over the past several days as he’s made the rounds of talk shows.
Palin has a book deal with HarperCollins that Johnston said is worth $7 million to $9 million. Freed of the demands of being governor of Alaska, she can also rake in big fees for public appearances and speeches.
‘Tons of offers’
“After the campaign and things, we had tons of offers coming in from everybody out there and just all kinds of ridiculous things,” Johnston told Curry. Among them was an offer of a reality show to chronicle the lives of Johnston, Bristol Palin and Tripp. “We didn’t want to do any of that,” Johnston said.
He lived with the Palins in December and January, before he and Bristol called off the engagement that had been announced soon after Palin was picked as Sen. John McCain’s running mate and word got out that Bristol had become pregnant at the age of 17.
During that time, Johnston said, Sarah Palin talked about all the money that was out there if she weren’t governor.
“There’s been talk about it would be nice to just take the money and run,” he told Curry.
But he also said Palin’s decision to quit as governor wasn’t just about money.
“I’m sure she’s got multiple reasons for what’s going on. That’s definitely part of it that she hadn’t mentioned.” Still, he went on, Palin was a changed woman after the failed bid for the White House.
Palin, through a spokesperson, has accused Johnston of lying. “It is interesting to learn Levi is working on a piece of fiction while honing his acting skills,” the statement said.
Curry asked Johnston if the attack intimidated him.
“I speak the truth the whole time. I don’t let anybody intimidate me,” he replied calmly.
In fact, he told Curry, after being cut out of the Palin home after breaking up with Bristol, his relations with the family are actually quite good. “It’s going great now. It’s a lot better than when it all started coming out. Everything’s great now.”