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Gov. Sarah Palin is now ex-Gov. Sarah Palin at a swell Alaska picnic

July 26, 2009 |  2:56 pm

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(UPDATE: 4:28 p.m. It's official. Palin has resigned.

"With this decision now I will be able to fight even harder for you, for what is right," Palin, dressed in a conservative black pantsuit, told cheering supporters. She was joined on the podium by her husband, Todd, and daughters Piper and Willow.
 
"I promised to steadfastly and doggedly guard the interests of this state as that grizzly guards her cubs...and I will keep that vow wherever that road may lead," Palin said
 
She opened her speech with a shot at the media, which she characterized as "some straight talk."
 
"You represent what could and should be a respected, honest profession, that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you, and that is why our troops are willing to die for you. So how about, in honor of the American soldier, you quit making things up?" she said to thunderous applause. 

"Our new governor has a very nice family too," Palin added. "So leave his kids alone!")

Hello, she must be going: Under a hazy summer sky, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is preparing to give up her governorship to head for as-yet-uncharted political waters.

Thousands are gathered at a park in central Fairbanks -- the third in an annual Alaskan summertime tradition of governor's picnics -- to help usher the Barracuda into her next incarnation, whatever that is. The Ticket analyzed what was ahead in Palin's career earlier today right here.

Munching on free hot dogs, chips and watermelon, up to 6,000 supporters -- and a few detractors -- are setting up lawn chairs around an old river steamboat to wait for Palin to hand over the reins to Lt. Gov Sean Parnell.

"You Made Me Love You" was playing on the PA system as families, children and dogs filtered in, many of them wearing T-shirts with Palin's image in a heart, with the words "Sarah, We Still Love You." Palin arrived shortly after noon but hasn't made a public appearance yet. The official handover is set for about 3 p.m. Alaska time (4 p.m. Pacific).

There's a big sense of regret here, but hardly anybody thinks Palin is out of the ring perPalin picnic protestersmanently, whatever the controversies that have beset her 2 1/2 years as governor.

"She got so much done in her first six months it was phenomenal," said Bonnie Marcil, a nurse case manager who came up from Anchorage to join the festivities.

"We just really enjoyed having someone who did what she said she'd do when she campaigned -- she followed through."

There were a few detractors who braved the crowds of Palinistas. They got a few boos as they walked in carrying placards saying things like, "Flaking Out is a Sarahnormal Experience," and "Go Sarah Go -- Far Away."

"I respected Sarah before she ran for vice president, but she kind of flipped a switch and became a vicious political vixen," said Larry Landry of Fairbanks, one of those carrying the signs.

He summed up what many Alaskans seem to be saying these days: "It's been fun and painful and embarrassing for us."

-- Kim Murphy in Fairbanks

We'll be closely watching SP in the coming months, along with all the other characters in America's political dramas. Get Twitter alerts on each new item by registering here. Or follow us    @latimestot

Photos: Palin's supporters -- and some non-supporters -- at Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, Alaska. Credit: Kim Murphy / Los Angeles Times

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