When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin arrived backstage for our NEWSWEEK Women & Leadership Event in Los Angeles last March, John McCain had just wrapped up the GOP nomination. Palin had yet to endorse McCain—she liked Mitt Romney—and as we waited in the green room, I urged her to "feel free" to make some news on stage. She grinned broadly—looking back, I guess it was a grin of the Cheshire Cat variety—and thanked me for the offer.
Once onstage, together with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Palin talked about what women expect from women leaders; how she took charge in Alaska during a political scandal that threatened to unseat the state's entire Republican power structure, and her feelings about Sen. Hillary Clinton. (She said she felt kind of bad she couldn't support a woman, but she didn't like Clinton's whining.)
I joked with her about being on McCain's short list for vice president, and we had a good chuckle. We also talked about the challenges of running a government while also raising a large and young family. At the time, I didn't know that Palin, clad in a loose, dark dress, was seven months pregnant with her fifth child. An aide called me the next day to tell me that Palin would be announcing the pregnancy at home in Alaska and that she had wanted me to know as a courtesy. She was sorry she hadn't mentioned it the night before.
A few weeks later, Palin's son Trig Paxon Van Palin was born prematurely. She and her husband Todd issued a statement saying they knew their fifth child would face "special challenges"—her office later confirmed that Trig had been born with Down syndrome and that the family felt "blessed."