Gov. Palin rises to Levi's defense

Gov. Sarah Palin spent part of Wednesday countering what she considers inaccurate descriptions of how much education her daughter's fiance has, an effort culminating at the end of the day with her first public statement about her new grandson.

Palin was in touch with a celebrity magazine, a national news service and the Anchorage Daily News to question reports that her future son-in-law, Levi Johnston, is a dropout.

She left a phone message at People magazine saying neither her daughter, nor Johnston, are dropouts. "You need to know that both Levi and Bristol are working their butts off to parent and going to school and working at the same time," Palin said, according to the magazine's Web site.

Palin also e-mailed editors at the Anchorage Daily News on Wednesday, questioning several aspects of the newspaper's coverage -- including printing an Associated Press story that day that included the dropout description.

In October, the AP talked to Johnston in Wasilla and reported that Johnston had dropped out of high school to work on the North Slope as an apprentice electrician.

Palin also told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Johnston is enrolled in a high school through a correspondence program, according to the wire service.

Then at about 4:30 p.m., the governor issued a statement clarifying the education status of her daughter and Johnston.

"Bristol begins her final semester of high school next week where she'll get her last credit needed to graduate," the statement said. "Levi is continuing his online high school work in addition to working as an electrical apprentice on the North Slope."

In the statement, Palin also commented on her daughter and Johnston's new parenthood. Her daughter, Bristol, gave birth Saturday to Tripp Easton Mitchell Johnston. The statement ended with Palin's preference to keep the baby a private, family matter.

"We are over the moon," she said about her new grandson.

"The road ahead for this young couple will not be easy, but nothing worthwhile is ever easy," Palin said. "Bristol and Levi are committed to accomplish what millions of other young parents have accomplished, to provide a loving and secure environment for their child. They are both hard workers, they're very strong, and have faith they've made the right decision in setting aside their own interests to make this child their highest priority."

Palin added: "When Bristol and Levi first told us the shocking news that she was pregnant, to be honest, we all at first looked at the situation with some fear and a bit of despair. Isn't it just like God to turn those circumstances into such an amazing, joyful blessing when you ask Him to help you through?"

Palin spokesman Bill McAllister said Palin chose to break her silence on the birth because of the volume of questions coming from the press, and because of "erroneous information that was published."

In an e-mail, McAllister declined to answer follow-up questions.

The statement from the governor's office also quotes Bristol Palin, saying the 18-year-old "obviously discourages" teen pregnancy.

"Teenagers need to prevent pregnancy to begin with -- this isn't ideal," Bristol said in the statement. "But I'm fortunate to have a supportive family which is dealing with this together. Tripp is so perfectly precious; we love him with all our hearts. I can't imagine life without him now."

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