Palin goes after McCain camp

2009-11-13 11:20
The cover of Going Rogue: An American Life, by Sarah Palin. (Harper, AP)

The cover of Going Rogue: An American Life, by Sarah Palin. (Harper, AP)

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New York - Sarah Palin's new memoir provides heart-wrenching anguish about her teen daughter's pregnancy playing out before a national audience. But the 413-page tome doesn't contain a single reference to the father of her granddaughter, soon-to-be Playgirl model Levi Johnston.

In Going Rogue, which will be released on Tuesday, Palin also laments about everyone in her entourage being forced to wear fancy clothes she couldn't afford - preferring simpler, cheaper garb. But it's as if Johnston, who was among those hastily spiffed up to appear at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St Paul, Minnesota, had never left Wasilla.

The tactic does appear to have merit; Johnston, who has sparred repeatedly with his former mother-in-law-to-be, continues to warn that she should leave him alone, or he might dish some serious dirt that "will hurt her".

While the book - which contains 68 colour photos but no index - stays away from Johnston, the former vice presidential candidate digs in when it comes to those who ran Senator John McCain's campaign.

Confirming that there was substantial tension between her advisers and McCain's, Palin bitterly details how she was prevented from delivering a concession speech on election night, how she'd been kept "bottled up" from reporters during the campaign and prevented in many ways from just being herself. She also contends she was prepped to give non-answers during her debate with Joe Biden.

The book, which has a first printing of 1.5 million copies, has been at or near the top of Amazon.com and other best-seller lists for weeks, ever since publisher HarperCollins announced it had been completed ahead of schedule and moved its release date up from next spring. The Associated Press was able to purchase a copy on Thursday.

While the book follows her life from birth in Sandpoint, Idaho, to wondering about the next stop in her future, Palin, who received an advance of at least $1.25m, saves her strongest words for run-ins with McCain staffers and her widely-panned interview with CBS anchor Katie Couric.

Legal bills

She describes Couric as condescending, biased and "badgering". She contends the anchor chose "gotcha" moments while leaving the candidate's more substantive remarks on the cutting room floor.

Palin takes another dig at Couric while asserting her expertise on energy matters. She writes that she was shocked Couric had asked her which newspapers and magazines she read; given what she called Couric's lack of knowledge about energy issues, Palin wondered whether she should have asked the news anchor what she read.

The closest Palin comes to naming names occurs in the passages about chief McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt. Quoting another campaign official, she writes that Schmidt felt she wasn't preparing enough on policy matters and even wondered if she was suffering from postpartum depression following the April 2008 birth of her son Trig, who has Down Syndrome.

She says Schmidt also was upset if anyone in her personal circle tried to correct - without approval from the McCain camp - what they perceived to be incorrect portrayals of Palin's record as Alaska governor.

Palin comes across as particularly upset about being stuck with $50 000 in legal bills that she says were directly related to the legal vetting process for the VP slot. She says nobody ever informed her that she would have to personally take care of expenses related to the selection process, and jokes that if she'd known she was going to get stuck with the bill, she would have given shorter responses.

According to the book, Palin asked officials at the Republican National Committee and what was left of the McCain campaign if they would help her financially. She says she was told that if McCain had won, the bills would have been paid, but since he lost, the bills were her responsibility.

Trevor Potter, the McCain campaign's general counsel, told the AP the campaign never asked Palin to pay a legal bill.

Behind-the-scene moments

"To my knowledge, the campaign never billed Governor Palin for any legal expenses related to her vetting and I am not aware of her ever asking the campaign to pay legal expenses that her own lawyers incurred for the vetting process," Potter said.

If Palin's lawyer billed her for work related to her vetting, the McCain campaign never knew about it, Potter said.

Written with Lynn Vincent, Going Rogue is folksy in tone and homespun. For example, Palin says her efforts to award a licence for a massive natural gas transmission line was turning a pipe dream into a pipeline. She writes in awe about how the McCain campaign had hired a New York stylist who also had worked with Couric.

Taken aback by the fussing, she wondered who was paying for the $150 000 worth of clothes the campaign gave to her and her family. Also, Palin did not like the forced makeover and said she wondered at the time if she and her clan came across as "that" unpresentable.

Family members were told the costs were being taken care of, or were "part of the convention". The designer clothing, hairstyling and accessories later grew into a controversy.

Palin shares behind-the-scene moments when the nation learned her teen daughter Bristol was pregnant, how she rewrote the statement prepared for her by the McCain campaign - only to watch in horror as a TV news anchor read the original McCain camp statement, which, in Palin's view, glamourised and endorsed her daughter's situation.

She writes that the incident made it clear to her that McCain headquarters was in charge of her message. She said when she tried to find out what the McCain camp would and would not allow her to say, Schmidt told her to simply "stick with the script".

Palin laments that she wasn't allowed to bring up loads of family members to the stage while McCain gave his election night concession speech, having found out minutes earlier that she wouldn't be permitted to give her own speech.

Interviews with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters will be televised next week in conjunction with the book's release. Her tour begins next week in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and will skip major cities in favour of smaller localities.

In limited excerpts of the prerecorded Winfrey interview, Palin says Johnston is still part of the family. Johnston was quoted as saying that any attempts at reconciliation are fake.

- AP
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