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Sarah Palin's Resignation Stuns Father-In-Law

07/05/2009 at 11:05 AM EDT

Sarah Palin's Resignation Stuns Father-In-Law
Sarah Palin
Robert DeBerry/The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman/AP
On the night before Sarah Palin resigned as governor of Alaska, her husband Todd Palin dialed the cell number of his father, Jim. "Sarah's making an announcement tomorrow. Can you be there?"

Jim Palin was more than 200 miles away in Kenai, preparing for a salmon fishing trip with friends. He had no clue why his son was calling, or the nature of the announcement. "I didn't know what was coming and I didn't ask," he said. "I couldn't get back because I had a commitment. If I had been home, I would have been there," he says.

Early the next morning, Jim went fishing and landed his biggest salmon yet – a 60-lb. King. Then a little after 11 a.m. he got another whopper – news that his famous daughter-in-law was quitting her job as governor of Alaska. "Wow!" he said after reading the bulletin on his email. "We had no idea it was coming. Nobody seemed to know; they're extremely private people."

Jim, who along with his wife Faye, joined Todd and Sarah on the campaign trail last fall when Palin was running for vice president on the GOP ticket with John McCain, says he wasn't privy to the details that went into Sarah's decision.

"Obviously, Sarah and Todd had thought it through and as far as the future lies, and based on what she said, I feel confident they have several options available to them and we will support them in whatever they do," he says. At the very least, he says, Palin will have the freedom to speak without the specter of ethics complaints lingering. "If she's not in office, they can't file frivolous ethics complaints against you. That becomes a waste of time and money," he says.

On Saturday, Todd rang up his dad and they spoke briefly. "They're doing good, just fine," Jim says, though he didn't want to divulge all the details of the conversation.

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