Awkward Sarah Palin Moments Caught On Camera

Long before Donald Trump became quite the political spectacle, there was Sarah Palin. She first caught people's attention after she became the first-ever woman to be elected the governor of Alaska in 2006. Soon after, the Alaska native went on to become one of the Republican Party's fastest-rising politicians after the late Senator John McCain decided to ask her to join his ticket and become his running mate in the 2008 U.S. elections. An outspoken and often polarizing conservative, Palin appeared to be the perfect vice president who could successfully support a presidency under McCain (they eventually lost to former President Barack Obama) and even run for president herself in the future.

Palin's meteoric ascent came with a lot of scrutiny, but McCain was empathetic to a degree. As he wrote in "The Restless Wave," "You have to have extraordinary strength, confidence, and ability to be suddenly plucked from your life, and in less than a week present your best self to an audience of tens of millions, who are watching and wondering who the hell you are." As true as that may be, there is no denying Palin made a lot of missteps during the campaign. 

After she and McCain lost the election, Palin eventually ventured into reality television while continuing to drum up support for the Republican National Committee. By then, however, Palin had already become one of the most controversial figures in the U.S. political landscape. It wasn't just her political views that got everyone talking but also her many blunders captured on camera.

She did an interview while a turkey was slaughtered

After losing the U.S. elections in 2008, Sarah Palin was back in her hometown of Wasilla, Alaska, determined to move on and focus on her work as governor. But first, she had to pardon a turkey. And while that portion of the outing went off without a hitch, what happened next was bizarre and rather disturbing.

During an on-camera interview, the then-Alaska governor happily talked about her experience after running for America's second-highest executive office. Palin also continued to discuss her plans for Alaska even as a man could clearly be seen loading a turkey into a slaughter machine. At one point, the man looked toward the direction of the then-governor as if to confirm if he could continue with his work. While Palin glanced his way, she didn't acknowledge the gory scene that was unfolding behind her. Instead, she went on to discuss the drastic drop in oil prices, assuring everyone that they had anticipated this scenario early on.

Over the course of the interview, Palin also remarked how happy she was to go out and support a local business, which led to her turkey farm visit in the first place. Reports later claimed that Palin knew exactly what was going on in the background and didn't have an issue with it. Without missing a beat, she even reportedly told someone (via HuffPost), "No worries."

Sarah Palin touted Alaska's proximity to Russia as foreign policy experience

Throughout her political career, Sarah Palin has given a lot of interesting sound bites. But perhaps, nothing is still more unforgettable than that time when she claimed that Alaska's proximity to Russia gave her enough foreign policy experience as she ran for office alongside the late John McCain. When ABC's Charlie Gibson asked the former governor about the insights that she gets from being close to Russia, Palin remarked, "They're our next-door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."

Soon after, her response went viral. On "Saturday Night Live," Tina Fey, in full Sarah Palin garb, played the former governor in the episode's cold open. At one point she quipped, "I can see Alaska from my house." After the episode aired, the real Sarah Palin sat down with Katie Couric and doubled down on her claim with the same line of reasoning. And while she didn't confirm if she already had any experience negotiating with Russia at that time, Palin revealed, "We have trade missions back and forth."

To be clear, it wasn't Palin who made this claim first. Rather, it all started after McCain's own interview with Gibson in which the latter questioned Palin's foreign policy credentials considering that she hadn't traveled outside of the U.S. up until 2007. In response, the late senator said, "Alaska is right next to Russia. She understands that."

Sarah Palin went to a hockey game and got booed

Just like with the NBA and the NFL, hockey games can get quite intense, and Sarah Palin is probably aware of this. After all, the former governor had been quite a devoted hockey mom to son Track Palin, as he had been active on the ice. In an interview with The State Journal-Register, North American Hockey League player Jeremiah Dargis shared that he grew up playing hockey with Track. He told the outlet that Track's mom even babysat him from time to time. 

Sarah may have won the hearts of the Alaskan hockey community by the time she was running for vice president, but when she got to Philadelphia, she didn't get any brotherly love. Instead, she got a lot of boos.

Back in 2008, John McCain and his team thought it would be a good idea for his running mate to stop by a hockey game in Philadelphia and drop the ceremonial puck during an NHL match between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Rangers. And while the crowd sounded excited, the cheers quickly turned into jeers the moment Sarah made her way onto the ice. Despite the embarrassment, Sarah was a sport about the whole thing. According to Salon, she later commented, "I've been warned that Flyers fans, they get so enthused that they boo everybody at the drop of the puck." Talk about an icy reception.

She was unable to name a publication after claiming she reads all the news

The moment John McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate, everyone wanted to get to know the former governor a little better. After all, the Alaska native had not been on the national political stage up until then. Just like that, she was everywhere, doing interviews and sharing her views on a host of important issues. And while Palin typically has something to say, the politician appeared to have blanked out when Katie Couric asked a rather simple question.

During an interview for CBS News, Couric asked, "When it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this [the vice president nomination]?" In response, Palin simply stated, "I've read most of them with a great appreciation for the press, for the media." When pressed for specifics, she remarked, "All of them, any of them..."

Palin later addressed this awkward moment in a 2010 interview with ABC News. Aside from denying the notion that she was uninformed, the politician also revealed some of her favorite reading materials to the network's Barbara Walters. These include C.S. Lewis' classics and a book by Dean Karnazes. As for news publications, Palin prefers The Wall Street Journal, Newsmax, and local papers in Alaska.

The dead bear on American Chopper

Long before Sarah Palin became a reality television star, she made a special appearance in Discovery Channel's hit reality series "American Chopper." In the episode, the men from Orange County Choppers made their way to Alaska after being commissioned to build a motorcycle in honor of Alaska's 50th anniversary. Paul Teutul Sr., the founder of the company and one of the show's main stars, first met Palin when his company gifted John McCain with a motorcycle and endorsed their ticket.

For the episode, Teutul personally met with Palin in her Anchorage office. During their meeting, the politician could clearly be seen resting against a grizzly bear carcass that had been draped over her couch. According to People, the bear came from Palin's father, Chuck Heath, who shot it himself. And as a number of outlets pointed out, the animal hide was impossible to ignore. "She's just talking about patriotism and leaning back on the dead bear," wrote Salon, while NBC4 Washington quipped, "[T]ake a peek at a this surreal clip from last night's episode and you'll see it was the moose-hunting hockey mom's dead bear decor that really stole the show."

Despite the bear throw, the meeting with Teutul and company went well. Palin also invited them to return to Alaska for a fishing trip. Meanwhile, it is unclear if hunting together was also part of their post-show plans.

She was caught looking at notes she wrote on her hand

In 2010, Sarah Palin was no longer running for vice president, but she remained active in the political scene. That year, she also decided to stop by the Tea Party Convention in Nashville for a little Q&A session. And while her answers seemed candid, eagle-eyed viewers couldn't help but notice Palin glancing at some notes she scribbled on her palm. An analysis of her writing revealed that she wrote "Energy," "Tax," and "Lift American Spirits." Palin also scribbled the words "Budget cuts" but seemingly crossed out the first word.

Now, the Alaska native might not be the only public figure who's scribbled notes on their hands before. But perhaps what makes this moment interesting is the fact that Palin had just called out President Barack Obama for allegedly using a teleprompter while speaking with students at an elementary school. It was later confirmed that he only used the teleprompter to speak to the media and not the students. Nonetheless, this didn't matter to Palin. During her appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) 2013, she addressed Obama saying, "Step away from the teleprompter and do your job." Palin also later returned to CPAC and stirred controversy once more with her choice of jewelry.

Her odd remarks about the 2014 fast food strike

After becoming the subject of several "Saturday Night Live" skits, Sarah Palin thought it was her turn to be funny. As she would soon find out though, comedy is never easy as it seems. Back in 2014, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered a rousing speech to striking fast food workers and got Palin's attention as a result. The former governor then decided she would do a monologue about it.

In a cringeworthy moment that would live on the internet forever, Palin appeared on a video where she remarked, "Liberals, you want to send those evil employees who would dare work at a fast food joint that you just don't believe in, I thought you, I dunno, wanted to send them to purgatory or something." She also later said that no one is expected to retain minimum wage jobs throughout their lives. "They're stepping stones to sustainable wages," Palin added.

The former vice presidential candidate exclusively made her bizarre rant available on The Sarah Palin Channel, which she launched in 2014. Fans had the option to pay $9.95 per month or $99.95 to view all her content, including this video. Just a year later, however, Palin decided to end her video channel, making all her content available on her Facebook page and the website instead. The site appears to have also been taken down since.

She inadvertently raised money for Hillary Clinton in Iowa

Back in 2015, Sarah Palin had already lost an election and had stepped down as the governor of Alaska. But she wasn't done with politics just yet. As the Alaskan native contemplated the idea of a 2016 presidential run, she made her way to the Iowa Freedom Summit to rally the crowd. The Republican party was anticipating Hillary Clinton would announce her presidential run by then and they wanted to get in front of it. Instead, Palin helped the Democratic candidate raise funds.

While delivering a speech at the event, the former vice presidential candidate pulled out a Ready for Hillary PAC campaign magnet and told the crowd, "I'm ready for Hillary, are you? Are you coming?" Now, what Palin meant to say was that the Republicans were ready for Clinton's challenge if she went through with her plans (the former first lady eventually confirmed her presidential run in April 2015).

After Palin's speech went viral, Clinton's team quickly headed over to X (formerly Twitter) and encouraged followers to get their own Ready for Hillary magnet. They also emailed Palin's video to Clinton's supporters and raised $25,000 as a result. By then, the campaign also said it was ready to appoint Palin as the co-chair of the Ready for Hillary's National Finance Council, according to the Independent. Later on, a Ready For Hillary campaign spokesperson also shared an update with The Guardian, saying that they raised more than $50,000 because of Palin's video.

Sarah Palin wouldn't answer questions about the Bush Doctrine

In response to the unprecedented attack on America on September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush, Sarah Palin's fellow Republican, released the Bush Doctrine to guide the country in its future strategy for national security. It states that preemptive action must be taken against both terror groups and the hostile states that may harbor them.

As a vice presidential nominee in 2008, one may have expected Palin to know the Bush Doctrine by heart. During a sit-down interview with ABC News' Charlie Gibson though, it was unclear if the Alaska native had any actual knowledge of it as she only provided boilerplate answers on terrorism. When Gibson asked if she agreed with the Bush Doctrine, Palin responded, "In what respect, Charlie?" The veteran host also proceeded to explain to Palin that he was referring to the doctrine that Bush released in 2022. Despite this explanation, however, Palin refused to discuss anything specifically related to the subject. Instead, the politician offered a vague remark on the existence of terrorism and Islamic extremists. Gibson tried again to get a more direct answer from Palin by stating some principles from the doctrine. It didn't work.

Unsurprisingly, this interview generated a great deal of buzz about whether or not Palin was right for the role of VP. As Bob Herbert wrote in The New York Times, "With Ms. Palin, it's not about agreeing or disagreeing. She doesn't appear to understand some of the most important issues."

Her take on John McCain's regret in having her as a running mate

Just before his death in 2018, John McCain revealed in his book "The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights, and Other Appreciations" that he regretted choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 U.S. elections. The late senator also confirmed that Palin hadn't been his first choice in the first place.

Just before the Republican Convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota, McCain and his team were scrambling to find him a running mate. At that time, he wanted his vice presidential nominee to be Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, but his campaign was against it. That's when McCain decided he would go with the relatively unknown Palin. Together, they were off to a good start, at first. But then, it all went wrong. "She stumbled in some interviews and had a few misjudgments in the glare of the ceaseless spotlight," McCain wrote. He also took full responsibility for Palin.

NBC News later caught up with Palin and asked for a comment on McCain's confession. In response, the Alaskan native expressed sadness upon learning while also alluding that the statement may not have come from the late senator instead. When pressed by a reporter if it hurt to hear that McCain would have preferred Lieberman, Palin replied, "A bit." After McCain died on August 25, 2018, his family didn't invite Palin to his funeral.