Campaign Pain

(Note: This post was put together before the breaking news today that Princess Sarah has resigned.)

(CBS) The tension between Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and top McCain campaign aides in the closing days of last fall’s presidential campaign is elucidated in a profile in the new issue of Vanity Fair.


Internal campaign e-mails exchanged three weeks before Election Day offer a rare look at just how frustrated then Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had become with the manner in which top McCain campaign aides were handling her candidacy. The e-mails, obtained exclusively, also highlight the power struggle and thinly veiled acrimony that pervaded the relationship between Palin and the campaign’s chief strategist, Steve Schmidt.

Original movie poster.

The episode in question began when an investigative report published on the left-leaning Web site raised questions about Palin’s relationship with members of the Alaska Independence Party (AIP) when she was mayor of Wasilla. The AIP’s platform calls for a vote giving Alaskans the option to secede from the United States. It had already been widely known that Todd Palin was a registered member of the AIP from 1995 to 2002 and that Governor Palin had taped a recorded greeting at the party’s 2008 convention.

On the morning of Oct. 15, Palin was aboard her campaign jet and en route to New Hampshire when she happened to catch a disparaging CNN segment that touted the story, complete with a provocative graphic at the bottom of the screen reading, “THE PALINS AND THE FRINGE.”

While shaking hands after a rally later that afternoon, someone on the rope line shouted a remark at Palin about the AIP.

The comment set her off.


Palin blasted out an e-mail with the subject line “Todd” to Schmidt, campaign manager Rick Davis and senior advisor Nicolle Wallace, copying her husband on the message[…]


“Pls get in front of that ridiculous issue that’s cropped up all day today – two reporters, a protestor’s sign, and many shout-outs all claiming Todd’s involvement in an anti-American political party,” Palin wrote. “It’s bull, and I don’t want to have to keep reacting to it … Pls have statement given on this so it’s put to bed.”

Her reference to a single protestor’s sign and “many shout-outs” was indicative of Palin’s occasional tendency to take anecdotal evidence of a minor problem and extrapolate it into something far more menacing.


Schmidt hit “reply to all” less than five minutes after Palin’s e-mail was sent. “Ignore it,” he wrote. “He was a member of the aip? My understanding is yes. That is part of their platform. Do not engage the protestors. If a reporter asks say it is ridiculous. Todd loves america.”

This clear cut response from the campaign’s top dog carried an air of finality, but it did not satisfy Palin. She responded with another e-mail, adding five more names to the “cc” box, all of whom traveled on her campaign plane. They included her senior political adviser Tucker Eskew, senior aide Jason Recher, the lone traveling aide from her Alaska office Kris Perry, press secretary Tracey Schmitt and personal assistant Bexie Nobles.

Palin’s insertion of the five additional staffers in the e-mail chain was an apparent attempt to rally her own troops in the face of a decision from the commanding general with which she disagreed.


“That’s not part of their platform and he was only a ‘member’ bc independent alaskans too often check that ‘Alaska Independent’ box on voter registrations thinking it just means non partisan,” Palin wrote. “He caught his error when changing our address and checked the right box. I still want it fixed.”

Palin was attempting to bend the facts ever so slightly to fit neatly into her version of events. In truth, the box that Alaskans have the option of checking when registering to vote states the full name of the party, “Alaskan Independence Party,” not “Alaska Independent,” which would make an error by uncommitted voters more plausible.

Clearly irritated by what he saw as Palin’s attempt to mislead her own campaign and apparently determined to demonstrate that the ultimate authority rested with him, Schmidt put the matter to rest once and for all with a longer response to everyone in the e-mail chain.

“Secession,” he wrote. “It is their entire reason for existence. A cursory examination of the website shows that the party exists for the purpose of seceding from the union. That is the stated goal on the front page of the web site. Our records indicate that todd was a member for seven years. If this is incorrect then we need to understand the discrepancy. The statement you are suggesting be released would be innaccurate. The innaccuracy would bring greater media attention to this matter and be a distraction. According to your staff there have been no media inquiries into this and you received no questions about it during your interviews. If you are asked about it you should smile and say many alaskans who love their country join the party because it speeks to a tradition of political independence. Todd loves his country

We will not put out a statement and inflame this and create a situation where john has to adress this.”


[Schmidt’s] unwillingness to budge an inch on the matter was a remarkable assertion of his power to pull rank over the candidate herself.

Palin was silent after his second e-mail and the campaign did not issue the statement she demanded.

Reached on his cell phone on Wednesday, Schmidt declined to comment on the e-mail exchange. “I was proud to work for the McCain-Palin ticket,” he said.


Jason Recher, who remains a staunch Palin supporter and recently accompanied the governor on a trip to New York, said he hoped people would focus more on positive memories from the campaign.

“These internal communications and debates are in reference to a campaign that no longer exists,” Recher said.


Filed under 2008 election, humor, John McCain, movies, parody, politics, Republicans, Sarah Palin, snark, Wordpress Political Blogs

36 responses to “Campaign Pain

  1. our princess talked about timing today —– her time is up… and i bet even John McCain is smiling today
    i really think she will now just go away

  2. Nonnie this poster proves that it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good. Tonight, you’re both.

    • thanks neon vincent! πŸ™‚
      i’ve been wanting to do a poster about the big rethug blowup for a couple of days, but i kept getting sidetracked. yesterday, my internets and cable went down (again) until 10 at night. i couldn’t watch or read the news to figure out what i should cover. when the internets went back up, i found this movie and thought it would work with the princess story. luckily, i copied it and a pic of schmidt right away to my computer, because the damned internets and cable went down again for hours! have i told you how much i hate comcast?

  3. Nons….You seem to have an uncanny knack of who’s going to be the next hot media figure. I’m sure you are hard at work on a follow up post!

  4. Perhaps all of the Republicans could move to Alaska and then collectively secede from the entire Western Hemisphere.

    Just a thought. They seem keyed up to something drastic.

    • hi don! πŸ™‚
      i’ve been lobbying to get some of the states that are just a drain on the rest of us–maybe idaho, wyoming, and a couple of others–walling then off, and allowing them to become their own little theocracy. princess sarah can be prez, chuckleberry can be veep, and bathshit bachmann can do the census. it will be the perfect place for the fundies to go. they can call it fundyakistan.

  5. jeb

    Palin resigned? Wow, was she recently in Argentina too?

    • the latest is that she’s going to be indicted for some hanky panky concerning the sports arena she had built in wasilla and her house. it seems that the same materials used to build the arena were used to build her house. telling ya, the story about her family needing her and the other bullshit excuses she gave that nobody can understand are not the reasons she’s leaving.

      • jeb

        I hope you’re right and I hope that she’ll be able to see Russia from her jail cell.

        • she’ll have to write her book with crayons (quite fitting), as pencils and pens can be sharpened into shivs. i hope the prison’s tv is tuned to msnbc during the day and david letterman’s show every night.

          • Friend of the court

            well then, she won’t finish the book. She will be too, busy, trying to sharpen the crayons into shivs. ;-(

            • but the pretty colors will have her distracted very quickly, and she’ll forget all about shivs and go on about her business, trying to get the other inmates to do her bidding.

  6. Blasphemy! The potential Vice Presidential first Dude was NOT a card carrying Republican???
    Why that’s more of a scandal than their big bucks shoppin’ spree!

    Personally, I think Sarah Blinky Palin simply could not stand Michael Jackson getting ALL the media attention…. she needed to do some desperate media spotlight catching thing to put her mug on the front page.

    I don’t know what it is, but something’s up– I suspect she will have some ‘splainin’ to do down the road.

    Potential issues:
    Alaska is pretty, but there is a lot of gravel & ice…. hard to do the beauty queen strutting in that environment.

    Bristol is pregnant….again.

    Willow ran off with Levi.

    The kids were home drinkin’ & partying & she wanted in on the fun too.

    Being Governor is a lot like Community Organizing, and gosh darn it– it’s a lot of work.

    Starting a new band called- The Village Idiots.

    • Not to plug my own blog or anything, but I’ve been digging all over the Internet for hours and I think I found the iceberg the S.S. Palin is about to hit.
      I’m pretty sure it’s a federal crime to use one’s public office as a bribe and/or expensive gift taking operation. I think a huge house is a mighty valuable gift.

      • yep, that’s what i read. it’s all about the house and the sports complex. i can’t wait for the next snowshoe to drop! brad blog says the crime is embezzlement, and it will be a federal indictment. that’s why princess was so flustered. she can arm wrestle the alaska prosecutors but not the feds. πŸ˜€

        • I like the Titanic reference KZ.
          And Nonnie this federal indictment talk does indeed seem like a piece of the puzzle– I came across this tidbit this morning…

          The website…. where they have a red DONATE button just like President Obama has on his communications…. but his is *blue*.

          They are gathering money for Sarah’s *Legal Defense Fund*….

          which also gives a link to

          The OFFICIAL website for the Governor Sarah Palin Legal expense fund.

          Something’s cooking….. and it ain’t moose stew….

          Who’s she been palling around with????

          • the defense fund might have been set up a while ago to deal with all the ethics violations she was charged with. the sudden resignation was the big red flag for me. the rambling non-explanatory explanation reinforced the feeling that something else is going on behind the scenes.

      • so is a Viper and a Oil Rig Career for her husband.

    • i think toddy ran off with greta van susteren and converted to scientology.

  7. β€œThese internal communications and debates are in reference to a campaign that no longer exists,” Recher said…

    Damn — Nixon could have used this line about all of those tape recordings they used to kick his ass out of office. Isn’t that from Lion King too ? The baboon whacks Simba across the snoot with his magic stick and says it doesn’t matter its in the past ! How much did they pay this Recher clown?

    • i love how the rethugs are so willing to forget the past when one of their own is in hot water, but they’ll rattle off every democratic scandal no matter how old.

      • Oh, yeah … I still hear people talking about Gary Hart and Jack Kennedy. To be honest, I think they’re trying to get the numbers to match up.

        • they refuse to acknowledge that’s it not the activity, it’s the hypocrisy. i think all politician’s personal lives should be left alone, except when it may affect their official duties. for example, if a pol is married to a lobbyist or an employee of a wall street brokerage or big pharma, then we need to have that information. however, affairs should be off the radar screen (unless, of course, the affairs entail lobbying or the paramour being paid with taxpayer funds or if the affair itself is financed with taxpayer money). spouses and children shouldn’t be paraded about or used for photo ops. what i liked most about howard dean’s campaign is that his wife stayed at home, tending to her patients, and we never saw his kids.

  8. I hope she is going to finally have to answer for accepting gifts and favors….but I still believe she will get rich on the media circuit…