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Palin allies report rising campaign tension *Merge*

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by Heisenberg, Oct 25, 2008.

  1. Heisenberg

    Heisenberg That gum you like. Zone Supporter

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    Palin allies report rising campaign tension
    By: Ben Smith
    October 25, 2008 07:38 AM EST

    Even as John McCain and Sarah Palin scramble to close the gap in the final days of the 2008 election, stirrings of a Palin insurgency are complicating the campaign's already-tense internal dynamics.

    Four Republicans close to Palin said she has decided increasingly to disregard the advice of the former Bush aides tasked to handle her, creating occasionally tense situations as she travels the country with them. Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain's camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain's decline.

    "She's lost confidence in most of the people on the plane," said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to "go rogue" in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

    "I think she'd like to go more rogue," he said.

    The emergence of a Palin faction come as Republicans gird for a battle over the future of their party - and some see her as a charismatic, hawkish conservative leader with the potential, still unrealized, to cross over to attract moderate voters. Anger among Republicans who see Palin as a star and as a potential future leader has boiled over because, they say, they see other senior McCain aides preparing to blame her in the event he is defeated.

    "These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves," said a McCain insider, referring to McCain's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, and to Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush aide who has taken a lead role in Palin's campaign. Palin's partisans blame Wallace, in particular, for Palin's avoiding of the media for days and then giving a high-stakes interview to CBS News's Katie Couric, whose sometimes-painful content the campaign allowed to be parceled out over a week.

    "A number of Governor Palin's staff have not had her best interests at heart and they have not had the campaign's best interests at heart," fumed the McCain insider, noting that Wallace left an executive job at CBS to join the campaign.

    Wallace declined to engage publicly in the finger-pointing that has consumed the campaign in the final weeks.

    "I am in awe of [Palin's] strength under constant fire by the media," she said in an email. "If someone wants to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most graceful thing to do is to lie there."

    But other McCain aides, defending Wallace, dismissed the notion that Palin was mishandled. The Alaska governor was, they argue, simply unready - "green," sloppy, and incomprehensibly willing to criticize McCain for, for instance, not attacking Senator Barack Obama for his relationship with his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

    Palin has in fact performed fairly well in the moments thought to be key for a vice presidential nominee: She made a good impression in her surprise rollout in Ohio and her speech to the Republican National Convention went better than the campaign could have imagined. She turned in an adequate performance at a debate against the Democratic Party's foremost debater.

    But other elements of her image-making went catastrophically awry. Her dodging of the press and her nervous reliance on tight scripts in her first interview, with ABC News, became a national joke - driven home to devastating effect by Saturday Night Live comic Tina Fey. The Couric interview - her only unstaged appearance for a week - was "water torture," as one internal ally put it.

    Some McCain aides say they had little choice with a candidate who simply wasn't ready for the national stage, and that Palin didn't forcefully object. Moments that Palin's allies see as triumphs of instinct and authenticity - the Wright suggestion, her objection to the campaign's pulling out of Michigan - they dismiss as Palin's "slips and miscommunications" - that is, her own incompetence, and evidence of the need for tight scripting.

    But Palin partisans say she chafed at the handling.

    "The campaign as a whole bought completely into what the Washington media said - that she's completely inexperienced," said a close Palin ally outside the campaign who speaks regularly to the candidate.

    "Her strategy was to be trustworthy and a team player during the convention and thereafter, but she felt completely mismanaged and mishandled and ill advised," the person said. "Recently, she's gone from relying on McCain advisers who were assigned to her to relying on her own instincts."

    Palin's loyalists say she's grown particularly disenchanted with the veterans of the Bush reelection campaign, including Schmidt and Wallace, and that despite her anti-intellectual rhetoric, her closest ally among her new traveling aides is a policy advisor, former National Security Council official Steve Biegun. She's also said to be close with McCain's chief foreign policy advisor. Randy Scheunemann, who prepared her for the Oct. 2 vice presidential debate.

    When a McCain aide, speaking anonymously Friday to The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, suggested that Palin's charge that Obama was "palling around with terrorists" had "escaped HQ's vetting," it was Scheunemann who fired off an angry response that the speech was "fully vetted" and that to attack Palin for it was "bull****."

    Palin's "instincts," on display in recent days, have had her opening up to the media, including a round of interviews on talk radio, cable, and broadcast outlets, and chats with her traveling press and local reporters.

    Reporters really began to notice the change last Sunday, when Palin strolled over to a local television crew in Colorado Springs.

    "Get Tracey," a staffer called out, according to the New York Times, summoning spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, who reportedly "tried several times to cut it off with a terse 'Thank you!' in between questions, to no avail." The moment may have caused ulcers in some precincts of the McCain campaign, but it was an account Palin's admirers in Washington D.C. cheered.

    Palin had also sought to give meatier policy speeches, in particular on energy policy and on policy for children with disabilities; she finally gave the latter speech Friday, but had wanted to deliver it much earlier.

    She's also begun to make her own ad hoc calls about the campaign's direction and the ticket's policy. McCain, for instance, has remained silent on Democrats' calls for a stimulus package of new spending, a move many conservatives oppose, but which could be broadly popular. But in an interview with the conservative radio host Glenn Beck earlier this week, Palin went "off the reservation" to make the campaign policy, one aide said.

    "I say, you know, when is enough enough of taxpayer dollars being thrown into this bill out there?" she asked. "This next one of the Democrats being proposed should be very, very concerning to all Americans because to me it sends a message that $700 billion bailout, maybe that was just the tip of the iceberg. No, you know, we were told when we've got to be believing if we have enough elected officials who are going to be standing strong on fiscal conservative principles and free enterprise and we have to believe that there are enough of those elected officials to say, no, okay, that's enough."

    (A McCain spokeswoman said Palin's statement was "a good sentiment.")

    But few imagine that Palin will be able to repair her image - and bad poll numbers - in the eleven days before the campaign ends. And the final straw for Palin and her allies was the news that the campaign had reported spending $150,000 on her clothes, turning her, again, into the butt of late night humor.

    "She never even set foot in these stores," said the senior Republican, saying Palin hadn't realized the cost when the clothes were brought to her in her Minnesota hotel room.

    "It's completely out of control operatives," said the close ally outside the campaign. "She has no responsibility for that. It's incredibly frustrating for us, and for her."

    Between Palin's internal detractors and her allies, there's a middle ground: Some aides say that she's a flawed candidate whose handling exaggerated her weak spots.

    "She was completely mishandled in the beginning. No one took the time to look at what her personal strengths and weaknesses are and developed a plan that made sense based on who she is as a candidate," the aide said. "Any concerns she or those close to her have about that are totally valid."

    But, the aide said her own inexperience had led her to her own mistakes:

    "How she was handled allowed her weaknesses to hang out in full display."

    If McCain loses, Palin's allies say that the national Republican Party hasn't seen the last of her. Politicians are sometimes formed by a signal defeat - as Bill Clinton was when he was tossed out of the Arkansas governor's mansion after his first term - and Palin would return to a state that had made her America's most popular governor and where her image as a reformer who swept aside her own party's insiders rings true, if not in the cartoon version the McCain campaign presented.

    "There are people in this campaign who feel a real sense of loyalty to her and are really pleased with her performance and think she did a great job," said the McCain insider. "She has a real future in this party."
  2. BrAinPaiNt

    BrAinPaiNt Backwoods Sexy Staff Member

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    Well I can not total take away any blame from McCain or Palin for how unorganized this campaign has looked compared to past republican campaigns.

    However I have said it before and I will say it again. This campaign staff, IMO, has been the key reason of such a crappy campaign for the McCain/Palin ticket.

    They seem so unorganized and scattershot many times. It is bad when you do not even take the time to tell your VP candidate about important issues like pulling out of Michigan. Not exactly an issue you should leave out and let your candidate hanging in the wind when a reporter asks a question about it.

    Whether you liked the republicans methods in campaigns over the years or not, one thing seems to have been constant was that they were organized even during the Pappa Bush and Dole elections they were organized but just did not win against the buzzsaw of the Clintons. But this campaign staff seems to be a complete clusterfudge in many areas.
  3. canters

    canters Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    I ususally dislike "reports" citing unidentified sources, especially so with the horrible MSM, but I can see this story being more fact than fiction. Gov Palin has bigger goals than this election,,,,Senate or Pres?

    I have read many times that she wants to use the Rev J Wright against Barry, among other things, that McCain will not use.

    McCain better not blame her for the election if he loses,,,he would be down 20 pts without her.
  4. Wheat

    Wheat Philosopher

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    When McCain and Palin did that interview with NBC this past week. A lot of people noticed a complete lack of chemistry between the two.

    I also believe that Palin is looking beyond this election. Her question probably is...... does she go for more time as Governor of a state way out of the National Spotlight? Or, does she go for a potentially empty GOP Senate seat that could be available soon? I'm guessing the Senate seat.

    If they lose this election and the Dems take over everything. Palin is going to be hard pressed to get anything going as Governor of the State with something like the 2nd or 3rd smallest population.

    Then again, there is a lot of video of her double talking and tripping over her own words..........contradicting herself. So, maybe she would like to lay low for a few years and only engage the base.

    I don't know.

    I agree with BP though. I think McCain did himself a disservice with the folks he's hired.
  5. canters

    canters Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    I disagree that it was a lack of chemistry....they seem to get along and like each other. What I noticed was the age difference. He is dull and dry. She is hyper and not dull, if there is such a word. I think they are sort of an odd couple due to the age difference. There is a big age difference with Barry and the blow hard dufus (47-73), but it does not show as much.
  6. Wheat

    Wheat Philosopher

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    Agree to Disagree I suppose. Biden looks 10 years younger than McCain though. So, maybe that's what you see.

    You're right about him being dull and her being excited. Also, I think that being negative all the time actually bothers McCain deep down while she is totally cool with it. So, this is her time to shine.

    The part where they ask her if she's a feminist....and she's goes off on a thing about not labeling people. Then the clip from her a few weeks ago where she said "Yes, I am a feminist" is just an example of her problems right now. I think she is moving so fast and furious that she isn't quite aware of what she said the day before.
  7. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    If she had a set pattern to go to and not being forced to change it every day like the mccain idiots are doing she would not be caught out like she has. I hope she does tell the suits to stick it and just wings it from now on. Couldn't really hurt now. ANd for anyone on the mccain staff to try and blame her for their total incompetence really disgusts me.
  8. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Everything is everything... Staff Member

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    Interesting article. Everything may not be 100% accurate, but I'd bet there's some merit to it.

    You know the whole smoke/fire analogy.
  9. Angus

    Angus Active Member

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    In my opinion, if it is not McCain, the next Republican president will be Sarah Palin - that's assuming it does not become necessary for her to leave the Republican Party and lead a new one that resembles the Conservative Democrats that formerly ruled in Texas.

    Either way, the Republican Party will be transformed, I believe.

  10. Danny White

    Danny White Winter is Coming

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    Good for her.

    If this is true, I don't blame her for it one bit.

    This campaign was moribund until she got on the ticket. They need to let her use her superior instincts to rally the base in these closing weeks.

    They're having a rally with her here in Leesburg on Monday and I know tons of people who are very excited to go out and see her there. She's not the problem with this ticket... believe me.
  11. VCDefectors

    VCDefectors Benched

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    Something tells me that Palin, the political animal that she is, will turn this into a huge advantage down the road. In fact, if McCain loses, she will have the burden of McCain and having to placate to the moderates lifted off her shoulder. And she can blame whatever shortcomings she had in this campaign on the ineptitude of the McCain team. It's as if it would be to her advantage if McCain loses.
  12. Danny White

    Danny White Winter is Coming

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    I agree with everything you say except for the last part.

    Her biggest obstacle is that, if they lose, she'll be going back to Alaska. It's hard to maintain a high profile from there.

    But if they win, she'll be the first female VP in history. It would be a major advantage for her political future to be VP, even if it means being somewhat tied to the wet blanket (McCain).
  13. VCDefectors

    VCDefectors Benched

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    In truth, whoever wins this election is going to be facing an economic mess and 2 wars. It'll probably take at least a few more years before things begin to turn around. If I were the Republicans, I'd let the Dems take this election and inherit the blame.

    For Palin, I doubt her political star will tarnish a great deal, as it would be easy for the Republican party to cast her as a victim of a bad McCain campaign. Whereas, a McCain/Palin administration could very well prove to be a huge risk for the future of the Republican party.
  14. canters

    canters Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    I doubt a McCain/Palin administration would be more of risk to the GOP than any other combo......if Barry wins, the MSM will make certain to point out that his problems that he will no doubt face are not of his making---they will carry his water as usual. If Barry is having poor poll numbers in 2012, we will be treated to the talking heads on the MSM making excuses for him.

    If I were Palin, I would fear that I would be forgotten back in AK.

    She needs to run for Senate, or do something to garner some attention.
  15. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Lost in the Woods

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    I'd be curious to see what she's like with her own staff.

    Anyone know if the goofy persona that was on display at the debate is genuine?
  16. Rogah

    Rogah Well-Known Member

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    I think she's got a great chance to be a United States Senator eventually if she wants. For all the negative national media she has gotten in the past few months, she remains very popular in her home state and it wouldn't matter one bit what the "lower 49" think.
  17. canters

    canters Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    My sense is that she will be a vicious campaigner. She will cut your throat to win. Hence her wanting to use Rev J Wright. In her debates for the governor's position, she looked nothing like what we saw during the first part of her VP days. She was very solid, but all she talked about was corruption in the GOP in AK and energy.

    With some seasoning, she will be a very effective candidate. She needed some seasoning and did not get it prior to going on TV. She is getting better and better as time goes by, but it may by too late this time.

    Again, if the McCain camp blames her for losing, I will lose more respect for him...he ran a bad campaign, noting more or less.
  18. Wheat

    Wheat Philosopher

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  19. Wheat

    Wheat Philosopher

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  20. JRid21

    JRid21 Member

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    Palin's 'going rogue,' McCain aide says
    • Story Highlights
    • Sources say there is brewing tension between McCain aides and Palin
    • Palin aide says she is trying to take control of her message
    • "She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," says a McCain adviser
    From Dana Bash, Peter Hamby and John King CNN

    ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (CNN) -- With 10 days until Election Day, long-brewing tensions between GOP vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin and key aides to Sen. John McCain have become so intense, they are spilling out in public, sources say.

    Several McCain advisers have suggested to CNN that they have become increasingly frustrated with what one aide described as Palin "going rogue."

    A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.

    McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls -- recorded messages often used to attack a candidate's opponent -- "irritating" even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign's decision to pull out of Michigan.

    A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.

    "She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone," said this McCain adviser. "She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.

    "Also, she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: Divas trust only unto themselves, as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom."

    A Palin associate defended her, saying that she is "not good at process questions" and that her comments on Michigan and the robocalls were answers to process questions.

    But this Palin source acknowledged that Palin is trying to take more control of her message, pointing to last week's impromptu news conference on a Colorado tarmac.

    Tracey Schmitt, Palin's press secretary, was urgently called over after Palin wandered over to the press and started talking. Schmitt tried several times to end the unscheduled session.

    "We acknowledge that perhaps she should have been out there doing more," a different Palin adviser recently said, arguing that "it's not fair to judge her off one or two sound bites" from the network interviews.

    The Politico reported Saturday on Palin's frustration, specifically with McCain advisers Nicolle Wallace and Steve Schmidt. They helped decide to limit Palin's initial press contact to high-profile interviews with Charlie Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, which all McCain sources admit were highly damaging.

    In response, Wallace e-mailed CNN the same quote she gave the Politico: "If people want to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most honorable thing to do is to lie there."

    But two sources, one Palin associate and one McCain adviser, defended the decision to keep her press interaction limited after she was picked, both saying flatly that she was not ready and that the missteps could have been a lot worse.

    They insisted that she needed time to be briefed on national and international issues and on McCain's record.

    "Her lack of fundamental understanding of some key issues was dramatic," said another McCain source with direct knowledge of the process to prepare Palin after she was picked. The source said it was probably the "hardest" to get her "up to speed than any candidate in history."

    Schmitt came to the back of the plane Saturday to deliver a statement to traveling reporters: "Unnamed sources with their own agenda will say what they want, but from Gov. Palin down, we have one agenda, and that's to win on Election Day."

    Yet another senior McCain adviser lamented the public recriminations.

    "This is what happens with a campaign that's behind; it brings out the worst in people, finger-pointing and scapegoating," this senior adviser said.

    This adviser also decried the double standard, noting that Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, has gone off the reservation as well, most recently by telling donors at a fundraiser that America's enemies will try to "test" Obama.

    Tensions like those within the McCain-Palin campaign are not unusual; vice presidential candidates also have a history of butting heads with the top of the ticket.

    John Edwards and his inner circle repeatedly questioned Sen. John Kerry's strategy in 2004, and Kerry loyalists repeatedly aired in public their view that Edwards would not play the traditional attack dog role with relish because he wanted to protect his future political interests.

    Even in a winning campaign like Bill Clinton's, some of Al Gore's aides in 1992 and again in 1996 questioned how Gore was being scheduled for campaign events.

    Jack Kemp's aides distrusted the Bob Dole camp and vice versa, and Dan Quayle loyalists had a list of gripes remarkably similar to those now being aired by Gov. Palin's aides.

    With the presidential race in its final days and polls suggesting that McCain's chances of pulling out a win are growing slim, Palin may be looking after her own future.

    "She's no longer playing for 2008; she's playing 2012," Democratic pollster Peter Hart said. "And the difficulty is, when she went on 'Saturday Night Live,' she became a reinforcement of her caricature. She never allowed herself to be vetted, and at the end of the day, voters turned against her both in terms of qualifications and personally."

    CNN's Ed Hornick contributed to this report.

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