Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's running mate in last year's presidential race, is a new grandmother.
But a war of words is escalating between her camp and Levi Johnston, the father of Tripp, the baby Palin's teenage daughter, Bristol, had in late December. Levi and Bristol have broken off their engagement.
On "The Tyra Banks Show" earlier this week, Johnston said Sarah Palin almost certainly knew the two teens were having sex before Bristol got pregnant, and he admitted the obvious -- that they didn't always practice safe sex.
Early Show co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez sat down with Johnston Tuesday night -- and it appears the bad blood in this family feud is getting thicker.
Johnston insists the Palins won't let him take Tripp out alone. He says he was heartbroken he and Bristol split -- and the campaign contributed to the breakup. He also says the Palins are lying about him and his family.
Johnston told Rodriguez, "We're not cashing in on their name, you know. I'm just trying to get my side of the story out there and letting people know who I am."
Asked what the biggest misconception about him is, Johnston said, "Probably that my family's white trash."
And he said Tripp already means the world to him, remarking, "Tripp's everything to me. He's my little boy. I don't know what I'd do without him. When I hold him, it's an amazing feeling. I just shake, you know?"
Was having Tripp a mistake?
"Not at all," Johnston replied. "No. I wouldn't call any baby a mistake. I mean, I love him more than anything. I wouldn't trade him for the world."
But now that he and Bristol have split up, Johnson continues to say, he isn't allowed to have private time with Tripp, even though he once lived in Sarah Palin's house.
Palin's camp says he never lived there, and Johnston is lying about the former living arrangements.
But he's fighting back.
Rodriguez laid it right on the line, observing to Johnston, "Sarah Palin, through a spokesperson, has denied a lot of the things you're saying. So, either you're lying or Sarah Palin is lying. Which is it?"
"They said I didn't live there," Johnston said. "(They say) I 'stayed there.' I was like, 'OK, whatever you want to call it' -- I had all my stuff there. So, if you wanna call it 'staying there,' that's fine."
"You had all your things there -- toothbrush, pajamas -- stayed there every night?"
"For awhile, yeah. So..."
"So, they're lying," Rodriguez said, summing up his statements.
"Yeah," Johnston confirmed.
Mercede Johnston, Levi's sister, backed him up, telling Rodriguez, "He was living there. I hadn't seen him for two months. He lived there. They can't say, 'Oh, no, he just stayed.' That's an absolute lie."
What was Sarah Palin like when times were good between Levi and Bristol, Rodriguez asked Levi.
"She was great," Levi recalled. "She treated me like a mom. I would look at her like a second mom. I think she'd do anything for me, at the time. And now, I don't know."
Levi says things changed after baby Tripp was born, and when Palin returned to Alaska after losing the election.
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