WASILLA, Alaska — The boyfriend of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's unwed, pregnant daughter will join the family of the Republican vice presidential candidate at the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.
Levi Johnston's mother said her 18-year-old son left Alaska on Tuesday morning to join the Palin family at the convention where Sen. John McCain will officially receive the Republican nomination for president. The boy's mother, Sherry Johnston, said there had been no pressure put on her son to marry 17-year-old Bristol Palin and the two teens had made plans to wed before it was known she was pregnant.
"This is just a bonus," Johnston said.
The young man's presence could set off a media frenzy around the young couple as photographers and cameramen scramble for pictures of the two teenagers. On Monday, Palin and her husband, Todd, said their 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, planned to have the baby and wed a young man identified only as Levi. The family asked the media to respect the young couple's privacy as has been the tradition with children of candidates.
Sarah Palin is scheduled to address the convention Wednesday night and traditionally her family would join her at the conclusion of her speech.
Sherry Johnston said she was worried about her son dealing with all the attention. She said it was difficult enough for teenagers to deal with any pregnancy, having the entire nation watching made it worse.
Levi Johnston, a high school hockey player for Wasilla High School, is not listed on the team roster for 2008-2009, and his mother wouldn't say if he graduated. She said simply he's no longer a student and any further information would have to come from him.
The intense media scrutiny has stunned this suburban community about 40 miles north of Anchorage, with reporters camping out near the Johnston home.
"This is out of my league," Sherry Johnston said. "I'm just a country gal and I want to keep it that way."
She spoke Tuesday while standing in the driveway leading to her pale gray, two-story home situated on a densely wooded country lane. The home, like many in Alaska is adorned with moose and caribou antlers outside.
Many social conservatives have rallied behind Gov. Palin and her family's troubles. The McCain campaign has said the Palins are like any other American family and that "life happens."
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said that Palin's family and her daughter's pregnancy were not relevant to her potential performance as vice president. "I think people's families are off limits," Obama said. "And people's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics."
Just days after she was picked as McCain's running mate, Gov. Palin has become a lightning rod for attention. Aside from her daughter's pregnancy, it was disclosed that a private attorney has been retained for her in a legislative ethics investigation for her dismissal of Alaska's public safety commissioner. It also was disclosed that Palin's husband had been arrested on a drunken-driving charge two decades ago.
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