Hello, governor: Bruce with Sarah Palin, the beauty queen
The world is just getting to know vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the Republican governor of Alaska, but her eldest sister, Heather Bruce, has known her all her life. We asked Bruce what it was like to grow up with the Barracuda.
GLAMOUR: As the big sister, how did you torture Sarah when you were kids?
HEATHER BRUCE: My dad tortured her the most of all! He was a science teacher, and when he would take us hunting, he would show us parts of the animal, like, “Here’s the brain, here’s the eyeballs.” I can remember my sister squealing when my dad handed her eyeballs.
HB: I did the classic thing of taping off my corner with masking tape. On nights when we were getting along, we had this sleeping arrangement called Sleeping Beauty. When one of us was cold or lonely, we’d say, “Do you want to do Sleeping Beauty?” Then all of a sudden two sets of feet would hit the floor running, and we’d all cuddle in the bed for the night.
GLAMOUR: Were the pageants a family affair as well?
HB: No! That was more fun than anything [to tease her about] because it was so out of character. Sarah was no slave to fashion, so it was hilarious to have her parading in front of people in a swimsuit. We all had to earn money for college. Sarah had heard that there was scholarship money in pageants. She was embarrassed, but looking back, it was good preparation for some of those off-the-cuff moments; she learned public speaking and poise there too.
HB: She certainly stuck to her guns. My dad says that all of the rest of us could be bent, but that Sarah was the absolute toughest. There was a streak of stubbornness in her. When she knew what she wanted, she did what she had to do. When people come up to my dad and say, “You need to tell Sarah to do this or that,” he always says, “I lost that fight when she was two years old.” With Sarah my mom always said, “This girl’s a pistol.”
GLAMOUR: Her schedule must be insane these days. How do you connect?
HB: Sisterly phone talks are really, really hard. It used to be that we’d get together all the time through the kids. We’ve got this whole family line of child care, so there is a lot of kid swapping. We used to always get to chat during the exchanges. Holidays, of course, are the best times for the family, when it’s a ton of kids, and the adults sitting around just chewing the fat and talking about our lives. We talk very little politics.
GLAMOUR: How have you handled the public scrutiny?
HB: We’re a very protective and private family. There are areas we deem private and off-limits, and now those are flashed across the papers. It’s very painful to watch her and her family go through this.
GLAMOUR: What was it like for you when your sister got that phone call?
HB: [On the day of the nomination] she called me and said, “No matter what happens, I’ll always have my family, and I will always be able to come back to Alaska. My kids are there, my family is there. I can still be the governor.” She’s very realistic.
GLAMOUR: What’s it like to watch her campaign?
HB: Oh, I hope she does us proud! I’m so, so nervous for her and the debate. But my husband is pumped. He just says, “Heather, this is Sarah. She is magnetic. She’s going to do great.” It is absolutely phenomenal what my sister can learn in a short amount of time. What’s happening to Sarah Palin right now is like the worst college exam cram period ever.
GLAMOUR: And not easy for you, either….
HB: This is about interview number 15 that I’ve done taped, on the phone or live, and if I get asked one more time about Troopergate, Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, [Sarah’s] policies…. You know, I’m not the one running for office.
- 1 GLAMOUR: As the big sister, how did you torture Sarah when you were kids?
- 2 GLAMOUR: You shared a room with Sarah and your sister Molly. Were there issues?
- 3 GLAMOUR: Were the pageants a family affair as well?
- 4 GLAMOUR: She’s known as being a tough cookie. Did you see that when you were growing up?
- 5 GLAMOUR: Her schedule must be insane these days. How do you connect?
- 6 GLAMOUR: How have you handled the public scrutiny?
- 7 GLAMOUR: What was it like for you when your sister got that phone call?
- 8 GLAMOUR: What’s it like to watch her campaign?
- 9 GLAMOUR: And not easy for you, either….