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. Rob

    Here we go again! CNN, getting its marching orders from the Obumbles White House, puts out yet another anti-Palin story in an attempt to try and sway voters from what will hopefully be a very embarassing day for Dems and Obama himself.

    So yeah, let's focus on something that happened a year ago instead of current things. Like maybe the fact that Dems have added several BILLION dollars to Pelosi's joke of a healthcare bill, bringing it way over the under 900 billion Nancy originally lied about. But hey, that's negative towards Obumbles, so CNN would never report that.

    Careful CNN, you can see Obama's hands pulling your puppet strings.

    November 3, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  2. Jamie

    It's all about Sarah!

    November 3, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  3. kate

    Apparently she pays no attention to anyone, just doing her own thing. That is why she should never be considered for president or vice-president. Just think how she might handle security no attention to it, or go beyond security adivors and just do her own thing. I might vote republican in the future but not if she is the candidate.

    November 3, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  4. Chris Matt

    Thank you Sarah. You do more to the Democratic cause than anyone ever can.

    November 3, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  5. exactaman

    I think Palin was a very poor choice as the VP on McCains ticket and for a number of reasons. Just listen to her in only one interview and you can understand why.

    There were a number of great VP choices out there and the fact that McCain chose her is mind boggling.

    The frightening thing is that she could have been just a heart beat away from being our President.

    November 3, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  6. Shadysider

    The relationship between McCain/Palin is symbolic of the divide between the conservative party and the republican party. I was hoping that the Republican Party would push social conservatives to the side opening the party for a larger base, while actually pushing for the fiscal responsibility they always preach but have not practiced for over a decade. Unfortunately it seems like hard-line Conservatives are trying to steal the party back, as they feel that the current Republican hierarchy is not conservative enough. This will just serve to continue the flight from the Republican Party.

    November 3, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  7. Dick M

    How is this news? Why does anybody care about Palin? Let her be forgotten.

    November 3, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  8. benedict

    Perhaps many legislators and administration offficials don't need the flashcards that Sarah Palin's handlers thought she needed. Sarah Palin does not need flashcards those officals do need when it comes to character and integrity.

    November 3, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  9. Tram

    She is confusing. She can't speak coherently, she actually makes George Bush look like he ought to be in MENSA - and I never thought that was possible - she has no clue how to do the job of being any type of politician.

    If this was the best the GOP could pick for a VP in the last presidential election, then the GOP should just pack up and leave because they're no longer viable as a political party. They're laughing stocks, and Palin is one of the lead people the American public gets to laugh at because she's so ridiculous.

    Note: They paid $90 for a pair of socks???? I complain when I have to pay $10 for 7 pairs of crew socks at Walmart!

    November 3, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. AEK

    Hummm...Sarah Palin confused. Who would have guessed?!?!? Again, it was all about her being in the spotlight. They should have just re aired the Katie Couric interview so we could all feel even better about our vote for President Obama in that election.

    November 3, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  11. greyfox

    Again, the nonentity gets publicity, even if it's negative. Here, we see a snapshot of someone whose narcissism and ambition overrode every civil boundary.
    Can we now put this nothing to rest. Please?

    November 3, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  12. cm

    This is what Alaska had to say about Palin if the republicans had one hald a mind they would look at her history of party divisiveness, polorization and destruction and take hee. Take her at her world she is a self proclaimed rogue, dishonest, knavish person a scoundrel.

    I have yet to see what Palin was so upset about that she could not speak; it was a McCain ticket that brought her to the stage.

    November 3, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  13. LOL

    Now if they could have only kept her quiet during the campaign, they may have had a chance.

    November 3, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  14. Timothy Capehart

    Sarah Palin is not interested in political office. She's interested in being a talking head, in having a gig like Rush Limbaugh. A gig where she can blather on about topics she doesn't really understand but FEELS she has an actual opinion on. (Notice I didn't say "thinks" there's not much of that going on in the Palin household or SarahPac offices).

    She's a weathergirl with anchor aspirations. She and those rabid followers have yet to realize that she is nothing but a punchline and will never BE anything but a punchline.

    November 3, 2009 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  15. John

    John, you screwed up big time with your vice-presidential running mate. She's a pandora's box and I can't believe you and your advisers didn't see it coming. Too bad.

    November 3, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  16. Al-NY,NY

    As she saw her political career going down the toilet, the narcissist insisted on thinking she would go out in front of the crowd and get one last moment of glory......too bad Fido. John cut you down to size.

    November 3, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  17. KLM

    The facts are McCain was nothing without Palin. Look at the polls again if you need to. He was losing prior to bringing her on, Obama was well in the lead. It was his choice of Palin that put him back in the running. However it was a political move on his part, that he still fails to admit to. However once the choice was made, they wanted her to be a good little girl and sit there and look pretty. He made the mess not her, he allowed it to continue past the point of no return, and he has paid for it, he lost.

    November 3, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  18. quarterback

    Crazy, self-centered, narcissistic wingnut.

    You betcha. Wink, wink....

    November 3, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. Smiley

    Liberals is just skeered of Sarah! Go Sarah 2012!

    November 3, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  20. PaulaAP

    Wow – narcissistic? She is the definition, Limbaugh.

    November 3, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  21. odumber, 1 and a half year old maturity level...

    So the problem was everyone who thought they were voting for Palin, including her, somehow forgot that McCain was the candiate and she only was his running mate?

    At what point would a vice presidential candidate need to address the issue of losing the ticket?

    At what point will Palin realize that government isn't about keeping the job while it's good and ducking out when it get's sticky?

    At what point will Palin supporters realize that they are second only in support to Cheney's dismal numbers?

    And at what point will Palin supporters realize that this "fear" they speak of is so last administration?

    November 3, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  22. John K

    Did Joe Biden make an acceptance speech? Acknowledging a loss should be brief and humble; no value to have the VP candidate make a statement.

    November 3, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  23. Steven Richards

    My God... How does any sane human give any creedence to Palin as a viable candidate to be President. She is a true dim wit. The fact that she has so many supporters is a scary testament to how large is the brain dead portion of the American electorate.

    She is an embarracement to our politcal system. The fact that puppet masters like Bill Kristol and the Wall Street Journal give her any encouragement is very dangerous to our political system. The next thing these conservatives will want is having the local little league coach who is a gas station attendent run for President because he is a Tea Bagger, a birther, who hates and fears the federal government, and who is able to be led by the nose by hard right leaders like Kristol . These are the new conservative credentials to qualify for major office.

    What is our country coming to?

    Steven Richards

    November 3, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  24. Dabney Oakley

    Pretty scary when McCain's handlers were more afraid of Palin's unpredictability than that of their own candidate. Fie upon them both.

    November 3, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  25. Icarus

    John McCain should have nightmares and feel life long, unrelenting guilt about unleashing this horrible, nasty, destructive person on the country.

    November 3, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
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