November 3rd, 2009
08:03 AM ET
13 years ago

Palin sowed confusion on Election Night, new book claims

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Palin was concerned about the cost of the wardrobe that was purchased for her during the campaign, according to the new book."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Tensions within John McCain's presidential campaign boiled over on Election Night last November when Sarah Palin, McCain's running mate, repeatedly ignored directions from senior staffers who told her she would not be delivering her own concession speech.

Those fresh details on the conflict between Palin and members of the McCain team come in a new book - "Sarah from Alaska" - by Scott Conroy and Shushannah Walshe, two members of the press corps that traveled with Palin during the 2008 presidential race. The pair spent much of the following year reporting on the campaign turmoil and the vice presidential nominee's difficult return to Alaska after the election.

According to a copy of the book obtained by CNN, Palin's speechwriter Matthew Scully had prepared a brief speech for the then-Alaska governor to deliver while introducing McCain, before he gave his concession speech at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. But after conferring in his suite with senior advisers Mark Salter, Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt, McCain nixed the idea of having Palin speak before him.

Schmidt then broke the news to Palin. But she told no one on her staff, the authors write, setting off a series of staff miscommunications that went unresolved until moments before McCain took the stage to concede the election.

Palin did not inform her adviser Jason Recher, who was planning out Palin's movements that night, about Schmidt's directive.

"I'm speaking," Palin told him, according to the book. "I've got the remarks. Figure it out."

Palin's deputy chief of staff Chris Edwards, meanwhile, was also unaware that Palin had been told she was not to speak. Edwards, ready to load the speech into teleprompter, bumped into Schmidt, who told him McCain would be speaking alone. Edwards relayed Schmidt's order to Palin, but she once again did not let on that Schmidt had already spoken to her.

The governor could not understand why she was not being allowed to speak. "This speech is great," she said, according to the authors. "It's all about how John McCain's an American hero."

The confusion continued until the final minutes before the concession speech, when Palin - still shuffling through her speech notes - gathered with McCain, family members and senior staff outside McCain's villa at the resort.

Sensing uncertainty, Salter finally put his foot down. "You're not speaking," the longtime McCain adviser told Palin. "John has decided it's unprecedented."

Palin's spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton declined to respond to the new claims, but said Palin will address the campaign drama in her forthcoming memoir. "The Governor's version of events will be in her book, Going Rogue, which will be available on November 17th," Stapleton wrote in an e-mail to CNN.

Among the book's other revelations:

- In the days after her selection as the vice presidential nominee, the McCain team was so unsure of Palin's policy acumen that they drew up hundreds of flash cards to get the candidate "up to speed on foreign affairs and major national issues." One of the flash cards noted that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom was Gordon Brown, the book says.

- Before her now famous speech at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Palin's handlers began to rip the price tags off items in the candidate's lavish new wardrobe, paid for by the Republican National Commitee, after Palin expressed concerns about the cost of the clothing. According to the book, a $90 pair of socks was purchased for Palin's low-maintenance father, Chuck Heath.

- During a celebration among staffers after the vice presidential debate in St. Louis, Palin began pushing hard to start bringing up the topic of Barack Obama's controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright on the campaign trail. She wanted badly to win the election, the authors note. "I just don't want to go back to Alaska," Palin said off-handedly during the gathering.

Filed under: John McCain • Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (218 Responses)
  1. joe blow

    were the flash cards written in crayon?

    November 3, 2009 04:50 am at 4:50 am |
  2. joe blow

    run baby run (in 2012).

    November 3, 2009 04:51 am at 4:51 am |
  3. Debbie in VA

    Day two this week. CNN still pounding Palin. What is your obsession with this woman? They only thing I see is the left love jumping in and pounding her into the ground. Although I did not like her she is starting to really gain my sympathy. There must be something about her if the left wing media and the left wing bloggers hate her so much. CNN don't you have someone else to pick on? Try Pelosi for a change–there is alot more there and she has an effect on all of our lives.

    November 3, 2009 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  4. Houff

    Really? This is your political ticker lead item, a 2008 election story on election day 2009? You have no more important story to report?

    November 3, 2009 04:54 am at 4:54 am |
  5. Tom in Delaware

    Let the Minute of Hate begin...the CNN Obession of the Decade...Sarah Palin.

    Will you dwell as much on the Jon Corzine loss of New Jersey...15 months is a long time to be talking about the person who DIDN'T win the election.

    November 3, 2009 05:19 am at 5:19 am |
  6. Sandy

    My gosh...just go away. You lost the elction with McCaine. You never will be president or anything else. Just take care of your family.

    November 3, 2009 05:26 am at 5:26 am |
  7. Kuba

    Television is a dumbed down medium for non-thinking, dumbed down people. The extremely egoistic Palin understands this fully. She is yet another "program" that sells herself to the mentally sedentary viewership.

    November 3, 2009 05:27 am at 5:27 am |
  8. Trylon

    Perhaps the best service Conroy and Walshe have done is to provide American history with a moniker for this political beauty queen: Flash Card Palin.

    But Sarah continues to have a surprising number of supporters that still believe she is a genuine candidate for the Oval Office. These loyal fans might benefit from a palm-sized tutoring aid. On the front side it would say: THIS IS A. When you turn it over it reads: FLASH CARD.

    November 3, 2009 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  9. db

    Enough already with Palin. How about a little honest reporting on the stimulus debacle, the health care reform debacle, the Afghanistan debacle, the Mideast debacle ...

    November 3, 2009 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  10. Simon

    Quite apart from Palin's total lack of intellect to the point of illiteracy, her comment that she doesn't "want to go back to Alaska" also indicates her total lack of integrity in just wanting to walk out on the people who elected her.

    November 3, 2009 06:05 am at 6:05 am |
  11. John of NY

    She is a sow!

    November 3, 2009 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  12. nclaw441

    You put this story (earlier in first position), a 2008 election story, ahead of everything else on election day 2009? What are you guys thinking?

    November 3, 2009 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  13. JB

    The thought of that buffoon being in the White House for anything other than to take a tour is scary. That said, I hope she wins the Rep nomination. She will never win an election for the highest office and she sure is always fun to laugh at.

    "We– we do– it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where– where do they go?"

    Classic, hysterical and yet, sad.

    November 3, 2009 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  14. Mitch

    So another account that is in synch with others....staffers, reporters, people in the middle of the action all say the same thing. But sadly, the ultra right wing nut jobs will swallow every bit of tripe that palin's book will throw their way. After all these same people can't accept that more people voted for Obama and haven't conceded the election themselves.

    November 3, 2009 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  15. GOPBslapper

    Gee.......what a suprise, Palin creates Chaos while Stabbing McCain in the back. Well, she had things to do, like screw the taxpayers of Alaska by quitting so she could go cash in on that "Special interest" money she claimed to hate so much. Was she wearing those $2,000 shoes her supporters unwilllingly bought her at Saks?

    November 3, 2009 06:54 am at 6:54 am |
  16. Fred NJ

    spilled milk? Get over it and report the NEWS, not a soap opera! Who cares? It's all he said, she said, nonsense. Obama told Pelosi he's the boss not her. I heard him say it!

    November 3, 2009 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  17. TCM

    As usual, comments open to slam Palin, yet closed for the "...54% approve of Obama..." Why does Keating Holland have a job? He should be in the white house as the propaganda czar...

    The elections in Va today will highlight the country's sentiment about the radical Obama and loony Pelosi....

    November 3, 2009 07:14 am at 7:14 am |
  18. Mickey, NY

    Palin IS confused...

    November 3, 2009 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  19. Von Bismark-Vienna

    This woman is really ambitious.

    November 3, 2009 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  20. Dave

    Wow CNN, thats unbelievable. You look foolish when you continue to report every little insignificant detail of Ms. Palin, while ignoring most of the inexperience and radicals that Obama has surrounded himself with.

    November 3, 2009 07:29 am at 7:29 am |
  21. Suzan

    Just shows this woman was in it for herself.........she is selfish, conceded, such a know it all........and it was McCain that nixed her speech ......... just goes to show you he knew more about this woman than he is still not telling the truth about.........

    November 3, 2009 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
  22. Marie MD

    So I guess those pathetic little tears were more about her not being able to "speak" (if you call what she does speak) than losing the election. For somebody whose primary role was to help mcnasty's election she sure failed. Then again . . . . . has she ever done anything that doesn't fail or quit?

    November 3, 2009 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  23. TangledThorns

    Wow, the sense of elitism against Sarah Palin is overwhelming. She is a real person who understands the everyday American unlike Obama who only cares about polls and labor unions.

    November 3, 2009 07:36 am at 7:36 am |
  24. Suzan

    What ever the results are today in the elections in NY, Virginia, and NJ it doesn't prove anything for the GOP....... when it comes down to the election of this country when we can all vote the GOP will still lose big time.........the far right conservatives are not the majority of the republican party any more, and the rest of the country that supports this President and administration will keep the Birthers, Tea Baggers, and the radicals from getting into office or anyone that they support......this will only give the rest of the fence sitting republicans in Congress and the House more fuel to oppose this president and that is what is taking them down in the first place.........Their constant and only answer to everything is NO NO NO......the party of NO, not the party for this country.........

    November 3, 2009 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  25. A.B.

    Sarah Palin caused the McCain campaign alot of trouble, confusion and embarrassment and is still causing the same to the Republican Party which is currently in turmoil. As long as Palin becomes the face of the Republican Party with her frequent public appearances and representation of the party, The Republicans will remain mired in trouble and confusion and their credibility will remain in the gutter.

    November 3, 2009 07:45 am at 7:45 am |
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