Friday, October 31, 2008

Cabbage Patch Kids Vice President Candidate Sarah Palin

Current bid: US $3,650.00
End time: Nov-04-08 05:00:00 PST (3 days 16 hours)
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Palin might not be permitted to cash in on fame

By HILLEL ITALIE and ANNE SUTTON, Associated Press Writers

NEW YORK – If her bid for vice president fails, Gov. Sarah Palin could almost surely use her sudden fame to obtain a lucrative book deal or high fees on the lecture circuit, or even get her own TV talk show. But Alaska law might not allow it.

A provision of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act restricts outside employment. It says: "The head of a principal executive department of the state may not accept employment for compensation outside the agency that the executive head serves."
Senior Assistant Attorney General David Jones said the section likely applies to the governor but it's not clear what constitutes "employment."

"Clearly, the intent of the statute is to make it clear these are full-time jobs. If you are a commissioner, for example, you can't be working in the private sector. But does that mean you can't go out and give a speech now and then for an honorarium? I don't know. I don't know that we have interpreted it for that purpose in the past," Jones said.

Palin, 44, was little known beyond Alaska before John McCain chose her in August to be his running mate on the Republican ticket. Although she has been widely criticized as too inexperienced to handle the presidency, Palin consistently draws large crowds and is considered an attractive and dynamic presence, receiving high praise for her appearance Oct. 19 on "Saturday Night Live."

"It's not unimaginable that Ms. Palin, who once worked as a television sports reporter, could someday follow (Ronald) Reagan's path in reverse and cash in her political renown to become a show-business celebrity," New York Times critic Alessandra Stanley wrote.

"One thing everybody can agree on is that Gov. Sarah Palin is qualified — to someday host her own television show."
Palin was elected governor in 2006. Her term is scheduled to run through 2010.

Unlike McCain, or the Democratic candidates — Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joseph Biden — Palin has never written a book. But interest in her has been so high that her nomination made an instant best seller out of an obscure biography, Kaylene Johnson's "Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska's Political Establishment Upside Down," published last spring by Epicenter Press, Inc., based in Kenmore, Wash.

Publishers agree that a Palin memoir would bring her a seven-figure advance, should she be permitted to accept it.

"If she is allowed to do whatever she wants, all kinds of things are possible," says Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs, which released the best seller "What Happened," by former White House press secretary Scott McClellan.

"What you have with her is a situation in which she's a real celebrity, and she's new enough for people to want to read about her."
Anne Sutton contributed to this story from Juneau, Alaska.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Palin looks past Tuesday to her political future

By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer – 2 hrs 1 min ago

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. – With days still to go in the White House race, backers of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin are talking her up as a possible contender in 2012, speculation that irritates other Republicans who contend she's a drag on the ticket and that her lightweight image — unfair or not — will be hard to shed.

The Alaska governor has done little to quiet the talk. In fact, she fueled the discussion this week when she signaled that she will remain on the national political scene no matter what happens Tuesday. "I'm not doing this for naught," she said in an interview with ABC News.

The telegenic Palin, who burst onto the national stage seven weeks ago, has divided conservatives — some energized by her strong stand on social issues and others embarrassed by her halting interview performances. On the campaign trail, she is a popular draw, attracting numbers that a Republican Party searching for female star power can't ignore.

The divide is clearly evident.

George Will, a prominent conservative columnist, suggested "Palin has become an even heavier weight in John McCain's saddle than is his association with George W. Bush."

Indeed, a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center found that 49 percent of voters had an unfavorable opinion of Palin, compared to 44 percent who viewed her favorably. Pew also found that unlike past vice presidential choices, opinions of Palin mattered to the ticket.

None of that is apparent as Palin campaigns across battleground states in the closing days of the presidential contest. She drew huge crowds to a rally in southern Missouri on Thursday and 16,000 jammed in to see her Wednesday night in Jeffersonville, Ind., many wearing "Sarahcuda" T-shirts and buttons saying "I'm a bitter gun owner, and I vote."

Pell Blakeman, a Palin supporter who now calls himself "Pell the Electrician" in honor of the infamous Joe the Plumber, captured her appeal this way: "She just connects with the people. She's doing a fine job and she'll make a fine president one day."

Palin's future will be a top item on the agenda at a meeting of national conservatives scheduled next Thursday outside Washington. Participants in the meeting have declined to offer many specifics but said Palin's role in the conservative movement, either as vice president or as a 2012 contender if the GOP ticket loses, will be discussed.

To that end, Palin has begun to develop a national political identity that is separate from McCain's.

She's given three policy speeches in the last week, on energy independence, special needs children and the ways in which women are affected by national tax policy. She announced her support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage despite McCain's long-standing opposition to such a measure. And she has publicly questioned some of the McCain campaign's tactics, like the use of robocalls and the decision to pull resources out of Michigan.

Such departures from the script have irked some of McCain's advisers even as the Arizona senator insists he has no problem with Palin asserting herself.

"Sarah's a maverick, I'm a maverick. No one expected us to agree on everything," McCain said on "Larry King Live" Wednesday, adding, "We share the same values, the same principles, the same goals for this country."

If the Republican ticket were to win next Tuesday, Palin would instantly be viewed as a GOP nominee-in-waiting no matter what her stated intentions. She'd also be the most prominent and popular conservative in McCain's sphere — a powerful role, given many conservatives' lukewarm view of McCain.

"You have various legs to the Republican stool, and she'll be a feisty spokeswoman for that part of the party," Republican strategist William O'Reilly said of a potential Palin vice presidency.

But with Democrat Barack Obama leading in the polls, McCain aides are second-guessing many decisions made during the campaign, including Palin's role.

She was poorly vetted for the job, leading critics to say McCain had botched his first major decision as a presidential nominee. And aides are distraught over how Palin's initial rollout turned sour after her well-received speech to the Republican National Convention in August.

In the days that followed, Palin was shielded from the press except for a few cringe-worthy TV interviews in which she was hard-pressed to name a newspaper she reads and said Alaska's proximity to Russia gave her insight into that country's affairs. The interviews helped fuel Tina Fey's widely viewed "Saturday Night Live" impersonations of Palin as charming but clueless.

"I think she may have been ill-served by staff who sequestered her after the convention and gave the Democrats a chance to define her," New Hampshire GOP chairman Fergus Cullen said. "That may have lasting political consequences for her past election day."

Palin's reputation came in for another hit after the Republican National Committee disclosed it had spent about $150,000 at pricey department stores and boutiques to buy clothes for her and members of her family. Palin defended herself as a frugal shopper and called the purchases part of the stagecraft of running a national campaign, but the flap helped tarnish her image as a champion of the middle class.

But Palin's strongest support still lies with grass roots voters, many of whom cite her popularity and executive experience in Alaska as evidence that she could step into the presidency once day.

"I think she's the best thing that's happened to this campaign," 20-year Navy veteran Bill Costello said at the Missouri rally Thursday. "Me and my particular clique — we aren't voting for John McCain, we're voting for Sarah."
Associated Press Writers Liz Sidoti in Washington and Jim Salter in Missouri contributed to this report.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Republican VP nominee Palin eyeing 2012: report

Reuters – Republican vice-presidential nominee Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaks at a campaign rally with Republican …

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Whether or not Republican presidential candidate John McCain is elected next week, his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, plans to remain on the U.S. national political scene, ABC News reported on Wednesday.

Asked about 2012, whether she was discouraged by daily attacks on the campaign trail and whether she would return home to Alaska, the Republican vice presidential nominee signaled that she expects to be a player in the next presidential election cycle.

"I think that, if I were to give up and wave a white flag of surrender against some of the political shots that we've taken ... I'm not doing this for naught," Palin told ABC News in a taped interview airing on Thursday.

A campaign spokesperson traveling with Palin in Indiana said the vice presidential nominee was talking about being focused on winning on November 4 and is not going to quit despite what the critics have said.

With less than a week before Election Day, Palin told ABC that she believes in the current Republican presidential ticket and that she thinks "it's going to go our way on Tuesday, November 4."

"I truly believe that the wisdom of the people will be revealed on that day," she said.

Palin has energized the Republican base of supporters. But the Alaska governor has come under withering criticism on a variety of issues, including whether she is qualified to become vice president.

(Writing by Joanne Allen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)


Palin's future causes Republican rift

By Alexander Mooney

(CNN) -- Election Day is still days away, but Republicans are already caught up in a heated debate about Sarah Palin's future role in the party should the GOP ticket fail to win the White House.

Gov. Sarah Palin speaks at Shippensburg University in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday.

In one corner are some conservatives who believe the Alaska governor has been a detriment to John McCain's presidential bid and threatens to lead the party astray for the foreseeable future.

Another faction says Palin's core-conservative beliefs, demonstrated political acumen, and compelling frontier biography position her to reshape the face of a party now viewed by many voters as out of touch.

It's a debate, somewhat ugly at times, that is beginning to play out in public view as Republicans brace themselves for the possibility of losing the White House and a significant number of seats in Congress come Election Day. And that may leave the party in shambles with drastically reduced influence in Washington. Share your thoughts on Palin

Should that happen, political observers say, the party will face its biggest identity crisis in more than a generation, and Palin may well be caught squarely in the middle of it.

"A civil war that is simmering will break out into the open if McCain loses, and the party will have to decide what they want to be in the post-Reagan world," said Gloria Borger, a senior political analyst for CNN. Watch whether Palin is making a power play »

Palin, whose campaign rally crowds have been noticeably larger than McCain's, will certainly have legitimacy to run for president in four years should she want to. Some McCain operatives, claiming Palin repeatedly veers off script and often disregards the campaign's advice, already believe she is more interested in positioning herself for the future than helping the party win this year.

"She is such a compelling figure, and she has helped, without a doubt, with the Republican base," CNN Chief National Correspondent John King said. "But she's also hurting with key constituencies, like suburban women and independents, and there's a big question that, if McCain loses, does she try to emerge as the leader of the party heading into the 2012 cycle?"

Should Palin ultimately decide to launch her own presidential bid, she will face a massive headwind from an influential group of conservatives who believe the Alaska governor represents the very reasons why the Republican Party finds itself in retreat.

"She is a person of great ambition, but the question remains: What is the purpose of the ambition? She wants to rise, but what for? It's unclear whether she is Bushian or Reaganite. She doesn't think aloud. She just ... says things," conservative columnist Peggy Noonan wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal column.

It's an argument that has been echoed by a string of conservatives -- including David Brooks, George Will, Kathleen Parker, and David Frum -- who believe Palin exhibits a poisonous anti-intellectual instinct of the party that threatens to ultimately destroy its foundations.

"Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices," said Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times.

Frum, a former speechwriter for President Bush who has written that Palin is woefully inexperienced to be president, told CNN the Alaska governor's chances might be slim in a general election matchup.

"She will face the classic problem of being a strong candidate for the nomination, but not such an appealing candidate across party lines," he said. "She has a very intense following among core Republicans, but at the same time, non-core Republicans have reached a very negative verdict."

Frum also pointed to recent polling that suggests Palin's unfavorable ratings have sharply risen in the last two months, and predicted it will be extremely difficult for her to combat a perception among many voters that she is a lightweight, ill equipped for the burdens of the presidency.

"This is a moment where people have formed impressions, they have been watching her closely and paying a lot of attention," he said. "Even if she spends the next two and a half years delivering worthy speeches at the Council on Foreign Relations, the cumulative work that she will do will be seen by fewer people than probably watched the Katie Couric interview or the Charlie Gibson interview, or the debate with Joe Biden."

But even as one corner of the party predicts dire consequences if Palin becomes the Republican standard-bearer, another is strongly behind her.

"I hope and expect that she stays involved nationally, and she can play pretty much whatever role she wants to. She's got momentum now, and I'd be surprised if she didn't play a leadership role in the party," Richard Viguerie, a prominent cultural conservative and chairman of, told CNN.

Viguerie, as well as many other cultural conservatives, point to Palin's core beliefs on key issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage and say she represents a fresh face, from a different region of the country, who has the potential to reshape the conservative movement.

"Palin, as best I can describe it, exudes a kind of middle-class magnetism. It's subdued but nonetheless very powerful," Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes recently wrote. "Whether they know it or not, Republicans have a huge stake in Palin. If, after the election, they let her slip into political obscurity, they'll be making a tragic mistake."

Conservatives across the party are slated to meet in Virginia in the days after the election to discuss the future of the party and Palin's role is expected to be a topic of conversation.

"Palin will certainly be a discussion point," a conservative who will attend the meeting said. "While the Washington establishment and some of the New York academics may not like her, a lot of the country and the conservative movement's base does."

Factors out of Palin's control could ultimately control her fate.

The political landscape in 2012 may look markedly different than it does now, depending on the success of a President Obama should the Illinois senator win. Unforeseen developments in the economy and the war in Iraq will also likely have an effect on whether Palin rises to the forefront of her party in the next election cycle.

But one thing is clear: If Palin wants to mount a serious bid for her party's nomination in 2012, she has a lot of groundwork to do.

She has yet to form relationships with many key conservative groups at the local level, whose support would be instrumental in ultimately capturing the Republican presidential nomination. She knows few party chairman in the key early primary states where the race will likely be decided.

"She needs to get out there and get to know conservative leaders at the national, state, and local level," Viguerie said. "She needs to introduce herself in a way she hasn't had the opportunity to do so far."

And should McCain lose next Tuesday, the Alaska governor will have little time to take a breath.

"She would have to start the day after the election if she wants to run for president -- there is no period where the election isn't going on," Frum said.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Palin allies report rising campaign tension

Ben Smith – Sat Oct 25, 8:27 am ET

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 comes as Republicans gird for a battle over the future of their party: 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," a McCain insider said, 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' Katie Couric, the sometimes painful content of which the campaign allowed to be parceled out over a week.

"A number of Gov. Palin's staff have not had her best interests at heart, and they have not had the campaign's best interests at heart," the McCain insider fumed, 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 e-mail. "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 Sen. Barack Obama for his relationship with his former pastor, the 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 adviser, former National Security Council official Steve Biegun. She's also said to be close with McCain's chief foreign policy adviser, 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, as well as 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 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 that 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, OK, 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," the senior Republican said, noting 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 that Palin's inexperience 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."