Todd Palin Steps Into the Spotlight for Stars Earn Stripes

The "first dude" explains what attracted him to the TV show.

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Todd Palin in Stars Earn Stripes

After lurking in the shadows of his wife's television show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, and daughter's Bristol Palin: Life's a Tripp—not to mention what is arguably the greatest reality show of them all, the presidential campaign, as the GOP vice presidential nominee's "first dude"—Todd Palin is stepping into the spotlight himself, headlining NBC's Stars Earn Stripes.

Palin, with the coaching of real-life special operative veterans, will complete various military-inspired missions. He competes with other celebrities including Nick Lachey, Picabo Street, and Laila Ali, to win money for military, veterans, and first responder charities.

[Photos: U.S. Military Power in the Persian Gulf]

Palin, who doesn't consider himself to be a celebrity, says he was impressed with the performances of his celebrity castmates.

"They weren't afraid to roll up their sleeves and get in the mud and be there for the cause," he says.

A lifelong moose hunter, Palin had some experience with hunting rifles. But he says this didn't give him much of an edge over the other contestants, and credits his special ops partner for teaching him how to use the military weapons required by the missions. "I'm not much of a pistol shooter myself, so that was a whole new ball game."

Palin's charity of choice is the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska, which helps military families in his home state "through the good times and the bad." He has volunteered for the organization before, accompanying 250 Iraq veterans on a past sports fishing trip. "When they reel up a halibut and they've got that smile on their face, you just can't put a value on that," he says.

[See pictures of the first lady with military families]

The goal of the show is broader than just a single charity, "shedding light on what our military do every day to save lives and defend our freedom," Palin explains, which was the reason he ultimately decided to do the show, But he admits the nature of the challenges also piqued his interest: "It's not every day you shoot 50-caliber machine guns and bazooka guns and sniper rifles, and jump out of helicopters."

Stars Earn Stripes premieres Monday, August 13, at 8 p.m. on NBC.

  • See a collection of political cartoons on Sarah Palin.
  • Read the U.S. News review of The Campaign.
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  • Tierney Sneed is associate editor of U.S. News Opinion. E-mail her at tsneed@usnews.com and follow her on Twitter.