Palin uses book to get her revenge
Memoir scornful of Republican Party officials and media strategy during failed election bid
Saturday 14 November 2009
If anyone doubted that the book Going Rogue would live up to its title, Sarah Palin has set them straight. Twelve months after she and John McCain lost the race for the US presidency, details from the former governor of Alaska's memoir have leaked, giving an incendiary insight into Ms Palin's view of a campaign team she apparently loathed as much as they loathed her.
Going Rogue is not due to hit bookshelves until next Tuesday. But early details suggest that Ms Palin has used her high-profile book to hit back at her Republican party handlers in inimicable style. In it, she grumbles about being refused permission to speak on election night, she scorches the campaign's media policy, and she accuses Senator McCain's campaign of leaving her to pay off the $50,000 legal bill for her own vetting process, a claim that has already drawn angry denials.
The controversy is not out of the ordinary for Ms Palin, of course, and if some Republican feathers are ruffled, the 413-page memoir's publisher, HarperCollins, is unlikely to mind. It has ordered a 1.5 million initial print-run, enormous by normal industry standards, and has watched it sit at the top of Amazon's best-sellers list even before it has been available. Ms Palin is variously reported to have received an advance totalling anything between $1.25m and $5m.
An extravagant roll-out campaign is planned. Ms Palin, who has so far remained entirely coy about her future intentions, which may or may not include shooting for the big prize in the 2012 presidential race, will appear first on Monday with Oprah Winfrey and on ABC with Barbara Walters before embarking on a lengthy book-signing tour around the country, beginning on Wednesday in Michigan.
A recurring theme of the work, which features only five chapters but 68 colour photographs tracking not just the 2008 campaign but the life of Ms Palin from birth until today, is the shackling of her by the McCain handlers, ranging from the clothes she was obliged to wear, which struck her as too fancy, to the flat refusal to her request to give her own concession speech on election night. "Stick with the script" was the admonition one day from the McCain campaign chief, Steve Schmidt. That, we learn, did not sit well.
Ms Palin writes of being "bottled up" by the McCain people around reporters. She complains of being programmed before her vice-presidential debate with Joe Biden to never actually answer any questions directly. And there are unhappy memories of the decision to sit down for an interview with Katie Couric of CBS. She did it, she said, because a McCain staffer, Nicole Wallace, had told her Couric was depressed because of poor audience ratings. Ms Palin felt sorry for her.
That was a move she quickly grew to regret. Couric allegedly "badgered" her, condescended to her and deliberately chose to air the "Gotcha" moments that showed her in the worst possible light, leaving the more coherent parts on the cutting-room floor. The interview was deemed a disaster for the ticket, not least because of Ms Palin's remarks about foreign policy and seeing Russia from her garden.
Particularly vivid, according to the Associated Press, which obtained an early copy, is her unhappy recollection of the day that the pregnancy of her teenage daughter, Bristol, was unveiled.
The McCain folks refused to let her write the statement herself and drafted one that she felt glamorised her daughter's situation (Levi Johnston, the father of the child, and now estranged from the Palin family has had nothing kind to say of the former governor, and is notable by his absence: in all 400-odd pages, there is not one solitary mention). Money grumblings come up too. Ms Palin claims the McCain campaign charged her $50,000 for the costs of vetting her for a place on the ticket. After election day, she says, she asked if the Republican Party could reimburse her and was told that would have happened only if she and Mr McCain had won.
Trevor Potter, the McCain campaign lead lawyer, said: "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."
Mr McCain is staying quiet about the book. She needs it for financial gain and to put her back on the national stage, whether she intends to pursue political office again or a career as a political pundit. He needs none of that.
Book tour: But only for the faithful
New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago might be obvious stops for most US book publicity tours, but not Sarah Palin's. "I've decided to stop in cities that are not usually included in a typical book tour," she told supporters this week, and her route around the country sticks to towns with Republican majorities where her popularity is likely to be at its highest. Even her bus will recall the 2008 campaign trail: instead of the usual low-key book-tour transport, it will have her face and book cover plastered on the side.
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