Sarah and Todd Palin
Anchorage Daily News/MCT/Landov
Now that Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter has celebrated her 18th birthday, the GOP vice-presidential candidate says she's hoping Bristol and fiancé Levi Johnston – who are expecting a baby in December – will tie the knot well before the date next summer the young couple had been eyeing.
"Hopefully before that," Sarah Palin tells PEOPLE in an Oct. 15 interview for the issue on newsstands this Friday. "Bristol turns 18 in a few days [Oct. 18]. That's what we wanted her to wait for: 18, and a decision on her own about how she's going to go forward, her and Levi, at this point."
Taking a break between campaign speeches in New Hampshire, Palin and her husband, Todd, both 44, spoke about Bristol, Tina Fey and sex ed. They also responded to PEOPLE readers' questions about politics, life with five kids – ages 6 months to 19 years – and what's next for the Alaska governor, win or lose:
Do you two ever look at each other and just go, This is insane?
Sarah Palin: I haven't had time to yet. (She clicks her tongue twice and pats Todd on the knee.)
With the kids traveling, how do they keep up with school?
SP: They've been going back and forth and bringing schoolwork with them. Yeah. It's workin'. With our help and Grandma's and Grandpa's help.
Your crowds are adoring but the criticism is sometimes tough. Todd, Elizabeth in Nashville asks, Is it hard not to stick up for Sarah?
TODD PALIN: When you get into this business, it's expected. I do [feel protective] but it's just entertainment.
SP: They take their shots; that's some people's entertainment.
We've seen her as the Supermom and Power Chick, if you'll pardon the expression. You've seen her softer side.
TP: When she's working for me out there in my fishing boat, she's pretty vulnerable. It's my element.
SP: He's the boss out there on the boat while we commercial fish. Yeah. That's a different story then.