Election 2008

Chris Carlson/AP

Tension is Focus of McCain-Palin Post-Mortem

November 07, 2008 07:59 AM
by Liz Colville
Aides reveal divisions and bickering between the Palin and McCain teams as the McCain campaign gets its inevitable dissection.

Palin Focuses on the Positive—Obama

As Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrapped up her family’s stint in Phoenix, Ariz.—the site of the Republican campaign’s Election Day events—and headed back to her day job, she has been dismissing reporters’ questions about a divided and tense McCain campaign.

Aides, speaking anonymously, have suggested that she and the Republican presidential candidate were quite isolated from one another and that aides differed over decisions, such as the RNC picking up the tab for Palin’s $150,000 clothing spree in October.

“I have absolutely no intention of engaging in any of the negativity because this has been all positive for me,” Gov. Palin was quoted as saying Nov. 5 by The New York Times. She requested that people “not let the pettiness or maybe internal workings of a campaign erode any of the recognition of this historic moment” for Obama.

As to the discussion of Palin 2012, the governor is “noncommittal,” according to USA Today. “2012 sounds so far off that I can’t even, can’t even imagine what I’d be doing then,” she told reporters Wednesday morning in Phoenix.

It was Ariz. Sen. John McCain who, in July, predicted the negative media attention his campaign is now receiving, the Times notes, quoting the senator: “If I lose,” people will say, ‘That campaign, always in disarray.’”

Opinion & Analysis: What went wrong for McCain and Palin

Politico was an early reporter of “tension” between McCain and Palin and their aides, with Ben Smith writing on Oct. 25 that “four Republicans close to Palin claimed 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.”

One aide claimed that the Republican vice presidential candidate seemed more interested in going “rogue.” Around the time of that story, pundits increasingly talked about Palin possibly running for president in 2012.

Pondering what’s next for the Alaska governor, James Sturcke of the Guardian paints the picture of a “lampooned and sidelined” Palin. But he recalls that she and McCain “barely knew each other” when she was chosen to be his running mate, adding one aide’s claim that the two only “occasionally” spoke to each other during the campaign.

Sturcke suggests that miscommunication—or lack of communication—between Palin and McCain’s “people” may have exacerbated situations such as the prank call to Palin by two Canadian comedians pretending to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Beyond any rifts between Palin and McCain, Time magazine found four main reasons for McCain’s failure, enumerating them well before Election Day. First, suspending his campaign to help formulate a federal bailout plan in September found him up against a “wall” of House Republicans as his “influence” among this “crucial voting bloc … was limited.” Second, Palin was not given the preparation she needed to succeed with reporters and “her bubble truly got deflated by Katie Couric.”

Time also argues that McCain relied on “attacks that depended on dominating the news cycles,” and perhaps most importantly, he “stopped having fun.”

Related Topic: ‘GOP Looks Ahead in Light of Defeats’

McCain’s choice of Palin as his running mate is said to have alienated many Republicans, even as some in the party questioned McCain’s leadership—he is known for his bipartisan efforts—as not being conservative enough. Following the loss of the White House and Democratic gains in the House and Senate, the GOP looks to the next four years as a time to unify itself and solidify its message.

Most Recent Beyond The Headlines