Anchorage, November 8, 2008 – IR Summary/NYT- Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska fired back on Friday at the unnamed McCain campaign aides who have been criticizing her in recent days, saying that their condemnation was “cruel and it’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional, and those guys are jerks.”
Ms. Palin spoke out upon her return to the governor’s office here, defending herself from a barrage of criticism that has been aimed at her from unnamed McCain aides ever since the McCain-Palin ticket was defeated Tuesday.
The McCain campaign aides complained about the $150,000 that the Republican National Committee had spent on Ms. Palin’s clothes, the way a Canadian comedian was able to embarrass the campaign by calling her and pretending to be the president of France, and the political ambitions she seemed to harbor beyond 2008.
By the end of the week, their complaints had escalated considerably, with Fox News quoting unnamed McCain campaign officials as saying that Ms. Palin had not known that Africa was a continent, not a country, and claiming that she did not know which countries were covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Ms. Palin told reporters in Alaska that the anonymous criticism was “cowardly,” and that she had discussed the campaign’s position on Nafta at her debate prep sessions.
“I remember having a discussion with a couple of debate preppers,” she said. “So if it came from one of those debate preppers, you know, that’s curious. But having a discussion about Nafta — not, ‘Oh my goodness, I don’t know who is a part of Nafta.’ “
“So, no, I think that if there are allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about Nafta, and about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context,” Ms. Palin said. “And that’s cruel and it’s mean-spirited, it’s immature, it’s unprofessional, and those guys are jerks, if they came away with it taking things out of context and then tried to spread something on national news. It is not fair and not right.”
Ms. Palin fought back after the infighting had made its way up to Senator John McCain, who made it clear that that he was upset by the back and forth, and ordered his campaign workers to stop it, aides said. Some in the staff worried that questioning the qualifications of the woman Mr. McCain had chosen as his running mate was damaging his reputation.
Ms. Palin said that her experience made her realize how brutal national politics could be. And she had some pungent criticism of the national news media, saying that there had been some bad apples in the bunch.
“For the most part, absolutely, media persons, reporters, have been absolutely right on and there has been fairness and objectivity,” she said. “There have been some stinkers, though, who have kind of made the whole basket full of apples, once in a while, smell kind of bad.”
Senior McCain aides had moved to quell the divisions earlier in the day. Nicolle Wallace, a senior McCain campaign aide who worked with Ms. Palin, defended her Friday on NBC’s “Today.”
“She is perhaps the most un-diva politician I’ve ever seen,” Ms. Wallace said. “The only thing I’ve ever seen her ask for is a diet soda.”
Randy Scheunemann — a foreign policy adviser to the campaign who some factions claimed was fired in the final week, but others said had not been — said that some of the claims about her were false, and ultimately damaging to Mr. McCain.
“The people that are spreading these lies refuse to go on the record,” Mr. Scheunemann said. “They obviously have no loyalty to John McCain or to the person John McCain chose to be his vice president.” Full