Sarah Palin Officially Steps Down as Alaska Gov.

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Sarah Palin officially stepped down as the governor of Alaska at a farewell picnic in her home state Sunday evening.

Her final 15-minute message centered on free speech, the military, the media, politics and energy. The former Republican vice-presidential nominee warned all Americans to "be wary of accepting government largess."

"It doesn't come free," she told the large crowd.

What does Palin's resignation mean for her political future? Click play to watch CBN News Washington Correspondent John Jessup's report.  Also, click here for more analysis with Regent University professor Gerson Moreno-Riano.

Palin also set a standard for her successor, Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, 46, who was sworn in at the picnic.

"(Parnell) has a very nice family too, so leave his kids alone!" she said, addressing the media.

Parnell has said he will continue to push many of Palin's initiatives, like the natural gas pipeline.

"We share the same core values," Parnell told reporters in early July.

He also supported Palin's decision to resign early.

"I was taken aback," Parnell said at the news of her resignation. "When the governor takes that kind of a step, it's a serious thing. It was clear to me she gave it a lot of thought."

Palin plans on writing a book and campaigning for political candidates, but she has remained quiet on her long-term political aspirations.

"Come Monday, I'm going to be finding new avenues to keep working hard for Alaskans," Palin told ABC News.

Palin's Farewell

On stage in Alaska, Friday, Palin expressed thankfulness to her home state.

"This being my last time to speak to the valley community as your governor, I do want to tell you sincerely that I love you," she said. "I appreciate you and your support, the support that you've shown my family. God bless you and God bless America."

Palin supporters have showered the governor with affection during her final days in office as she attended several farewell events in Alaska. On Saturday, Palin hosted a crowd of several thousand at a picnic in a downtown Anchorage park.

Palin, Parnell, and other members of her Cabinet served free hot dogs and hamburgers as people gathered to eat and listen to swing music.

What's Next?

Palin dropped her bombshell resignation announcement in early July, with nearly a year and a half left in office, but has remained mysterious about why she made the decision and where she will go from here.

"I cannot express enough there is no plan after July 26. There is absolutely no plan," she told reporters earlier this month. "The decision (to quit) was made in the vacuum of what was best for Alaska, and now I'm accepting all the options, but there is nothing planned."

Palin cited some motivation for her resignation, stating that politics is taking a toll on her family and the state of Alaska.

But not even those close to the governor have been able to pinpoint her next move.

"I'm sure she has something else in mind," Palin's father, Chuck Heath said in early July. "But I don't know. I spent two days with her over the Pale River, and she'd be a good poker player -- she didn't lead on to what she wants to do."

Gov. Palin's husband said she is just looking forward to what is next.

"It's been an awesome experience and she's very happy to serve the residents of Alaska and onto the next chapter of life," Todd Palin told ABC News.

Presidential Run?

The question has been asked, but remains unanswered as to whether Gov. Palin will use her newfound free time to build a presidential bid for 2012.

CBN News White House Correspondent David Brody wrote, "Don't bet against it" in his blog "The Brody File."        

"By stepping down as Governor, Palin can get away from it all," he wrote. "While working behind the scenes to see if a presidential run makes sense, she can also hit the books. She can study up on Supreme Court decisions she may disagree with. Write some public policy "White Papers," go be an expert on a couple key domestic issues and play advocate in chief as she travels around the country pushing those issues.   

"By doing all of that," he added. "Sarah Palin can come back as Sarah 2.0."

Karl Rove, former chief political aide of George W. Bush, called it a risky move.

"The question now is what kind of idea does she have about the platform she will have during the next three years," he said after Palin's resignation. "This is a personal decision. It's a risky strategy. She marches to the beat of her own drum, and it's going to be very interesting to see how she pulls this off."

Sarah Palin will speak Aug. 8 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California.

Larry Persily, a Palin staffer who now works for a Republican state legislator, said Sarah Palin is indeed leaving her mark.

"Palin's biggest legacy may be putting Alaska on the national stage," he told ABC News. "Before if you played a word game and someone said Alaska, you might say oil or even whales," he said. "Now you say Alaska: 'Palin.'"

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