Bill Clinton and Prince may have been at last night's Time 100 gala, but the most buzzed-about guest by far was Sarah Palin (who, by the way, practically sat on her hands after Clinton gave a speech). Photographers, fans, and, yes, reporters like us swarmed her from the second she walked in the room with husband Todd and her 9-year-old daughter Piper. Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann practically jumped her for a photo op — though, granted, they did the same to Betty White. Ten minutes of complete engulfment later, Piper was clinging to her mother, repeatedly asking if they could "leave already." Todd, for his part, was standing far away, obediently letting Sarah have the spotlight and plotting to help Piper "meet Taylor Swift; that's the No. 1 priority, to make Piper happy."
Sarah, on the other hand, was happy to be in a room with so many reporters — particularly Time's Joe Klein, of whom she is a fan — so she could set the record straight. "I did talk to a couple of reporters already and said that a bunch of stuff that they write is bogus, but we had a great conversation about it and we agreed to disagree on a lot of things," she said. "One thing we can all agree on, though, is how much we respect and want to protect the freedom of the press and we have that in common, so at the end of the day, I think as long as we’re protecting that and not abusing the right — we have to be writing truth — then we’ll get along just fine tonight." Particularly, she wanted to clear up "the bogus reports about how much money I supposedly make," she said. "I have a business. I run a business with my speaker’s fee."
As if to drive home the point, Palin reiterated her great respect for journalism in her public "toast" to those who influence her, a Time 100 dinner tradition. "I want to make a toast to all at this press event who agree with Thomas Jefferson, who said that our liberty depends on the freedom of the press," she said. "So I want to lift a glass to those who defend that freedom. Our finest, the men and women in uniform who defend that freedom, our Constitution, and our exceptional way of life in America."
As she left the dinner, after watching a performance by Prince, Palin said she'd had a lovely time, both at the dinner and in New York. "Every time I’m here I have to go running in Central Park," she said. "I ran around an hour; I think I ran around the park a coupla times!" Todd told us he'd accompanied her, but could not recall how far Sarah had run in an hour. "You'll have to ask her," he said. "She jogs at a pretty good pace, so I guess a few miles." Who's faster, of the two? "It's not about being fastest. It's about who has the energy and can go the distance," said Todd, patiently standing to the side and watching Sarah, as usual. "One mile is good enough for me."
Related: How Sarah Palin Has Become a Singular National Industry [NYM]