Sold on 'Sarah'

Palin's father, brother draw crowd for book signing

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Chuck Heath, Jr., left, and his father Chuck Heath, Sr. sign copies of their book "Our Sarah — Made in Alaska" during an event Monday at Hastings in Coeur d'Alene.

COEUR d'ALENE - Karen White had one reason for being among the first in line Monday night to listen to Sarah Palin's father and brother pitch their book, "Our Sarah: Made in Alaska."

"Because I like Sarah Palin," the Coeur d'Alene woman said, holding two copies of the $24.99 hardback written by Chuck Heath Sr. and Chuck Heath Jr.

White bought one for herself and one for a friend, and had both autographed by Sarah's dad and brother.

"They're down-to-earth people," she said.

About 50 folks gathered at the Hastings store on Best Avenue to hear from the Heaths during one of their stops on a nationwide book tour.

The Chucks chatted for 45 minutes about faith, politics, the media and Sarah, of course - but not too much - because they've got a book to sell and sign that offers "intimate stories from Sarah's life along with a celebration of growing up in and sharing all that Alaska means to Sarah and her family."

They laughed often - "Anybody that calls me Mr. Palin, I charge them a dollar. I could be rich on that," Heath Sr. said, grinning.

But they also often expressed frustration with the media they accused of twisting words and making up stories about Sarah Palin and her family.

"Most of the stuff written about us is totally untrue," Chuck Jr. said.

"You guys that know her personally, she is as regular as anybody you will ever meet," he added

Heath Sr. said since his daughter was named the Republican nominee for vice president in August 2008, life in some ways remained the same and in others, it changed.

He still hangs out with the same "renegade" friends and drinks the same beer on sale. But their privacy suffered.

For a time, they received 200 to 300 calls a day. And one day, at their home in Wasilla, Alaska, 81 reporters stopped by. There were threats, too.

It wasn't easy to handle.

"We look at ourselves as just a common, ordinary family," said Chuck Heath Sr., who grew up in Hope and graduated from Sandpoint High School in 1956. "We are not political. Where Sarah got this political ambition, we really don't know."

He said he also doesn't know his daughter's game plan.

"We don't know what she's going to do tomorrow. She's very unpredictable. You'll be seeing her again, I guarantee that," he said.

Chuck Jr. defended his sister's decision to resign as governor of Alaska in July 2009.

Once she got the vice-president nod in 2008, life changed. The media invaded Alaska. Reporters, they said, invited kids into ice cream shops and paid them to dig up dirt on Sarah's children. What they couldn't confirm for a story, they reported anyway.

He said her detractors filed 27 ethics charges - all eventually tossed out - against her when she was in office. It was not only costing from $25,000 to $50,000 of her own money to defend each one, she was unable to effectively carry out her duties as governor.

She was not, he insisted, a quitter.

"They have no idea how hard that was for her to make that decision, and she did it for the people in Alaska," Chuck Jr. said.

He said Sarah only cares about what's best for the people.

"She's still that way. She's not loyal to one party or another. It's get a job done and let's work together, and forget all this nonsense on the side," he said, then adding, "which is what our country kind of needs right now."

Shirley Greene drove up from Moscow to meet the Heath men and buy the book because she, too, is a huge Sarah Palin fan. She said Chuck Heath's mother, Marie, was her teacher in Hope.

"I'm excited to hear some more stories," said the Sandpoint High School graduate.

When John McCain chose Palin to be his running mate, Greene went to Henderson, Nev., to work on their campaign.

She believes Palin still has a political career ahead - if she wants it.

"Whatever she does, she does well. She'll be OK. I think people underestimate her at times," Greene said.

Bob and Kay Edwards of Coeur d'Alene enjoyed listening to Chuck Heath Sr. and his son.

"He's a real likable guy," Bob Edwards said. "Just ordinary people. That's all."

The Heaths are planning a second book, this one to focus on hunting, fishing and gold mining.

But as novice authors, they knew their first book had to focus on a famous family member: Sarah Palin.

"Our editor said, 'You aren't going to sell any books unless you have Sarah on the cover,'" Chuck Sr. said.

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