Gov. Palin Says Her Unmarried 17-Year-Old Daughter Is Pregnant

"We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us," reads the statement from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband Todd. "Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned," they continued, referring to their 17-year-old daughter. "As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support."

The Palins said that "Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media, respect our daughter and Levi's privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates."     The campaign of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who announced Palin as his running mate just three days ago, said the Palins would have no further comment.

"We ask that the media respect their daughter in the same tradition that has been afforded children of past candidates," McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said.

A McCain campaign official tells ABC News' George Stephanopoulos that McCain knew of Bristol's pregnancy and "didn't believe Governor Palin should be disqualified" from the vice presidency because of it. "If Democrats try to attack, it will backfire spectacularly," the official said.

Gov. Palin is a strong proponent of teaching abstinence-only sex education to teenagers.

McCain campaign officials said the information was released to combat unsubstantiated rumors that Gov. Palin's fifth child, Trig, born in April, was actually Bristol's child.

The unsubstantiated story, circulated on liberal websites, was based on circumstantial evidence, such as photographs of Gov. Palin looking quite thin when she was supposed to be seven months pregnant, as well as Palin's own account of Trig's birth -- which included her getting on an eight-hour flight from Texas to Alaska after her water burst.

The McCain campaign refused to comment on the record about those rumors.

- jpt

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