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Palins say teen daughter is pregnant

Sean CockerhamMcClatchy-Tribune News Service
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin at her introduction in Dayton, Ohio, Friday, August 29, 2008. Behind Palin is her daughter Bristol, who the governor recently announced is pregnant.

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Gov. Sarah Palin said today that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is pregnant.

Palin, who arrived in St. Paul today to accept the Republican nomination for vice president, sent out a joint statement with her husband, Todd.

"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned," they said. "We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.

"Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi's privacy, as has always been the tradition of children of candidates," the Palin family statement concluded.

The campaign is providing no more details about the father, including his last name and age.

Palin was refusing to speak to the press about it today.

"We're asking the media to respect a person's privacy," said Maria Comella, Palin's campaign spokesman.

Reporters at the Republican national convention hammered McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt about the Palin pregnancy during a press conference. All Schmidt would say is Palin and McCain had discussed the pregnancy and considered it to be a private matter.

He wouldn't say if they talked about it before McCain picked Palin as his vice presidential nominee.

"I answered that question nine times," he said.

Schmidt also wouldn't answer if he thought this would hurt Palin with social conservatives.

Anchorage state Rep. Bob Lynn, an Alaska delegate to the Republican National Convention, said this is nobody's business but the Palins'.

"I think conservative and liberal and moderate voters will all agree that it's a private family matter," said Lynn. "This is family life; we all have family situations."

Senior McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin called the Palin pregnancy a family matter best "left to them."

He declined to say whether he knew about it in advance. "It doesn't matter when I became aware," he said at a lunch with reporters.

But he also said, "The governor was completely vetted."

He also said she's a huge hit with the party. "I've never seen anything like the excitement she's brought to the ticket"

Palin made the announcement following growing rumors on Internet blogs that the governor's new baby, Trig, was actually Bristol's and that Palin had claimed it to cover up her daughter's pregnancy.

The Daily News had asked Palin's governor's-office press secretary, Bill McAllister, on Saturday if Bristol was pregnant.

"I don't know. I have no evidence that Bristol's pregnant," he said at the time.

The news comes as Palin prepares for the biggest speech of her life, in which she will accept the nomination for vice president. Palin is not planning any public appearances in St. Paul today, and it's not clear when she will give her speech, since the convention schedule is up in the air because of Hurricane Gustav.

"Gov. Palin is working on her speech for the convention. We're confident there will be a speech at the convention," McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said.

Daily News reporter Kyle Hopkins and Michael Carey and David Lightman and Steve Thomma of McClatchy newspapers contributed to this story.

Photo blog: At the RNC
Politics blog: Statement released
By SEAN COCKERHAM