Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McCain v. Palin Riff

Is Palin positioning herself for 2012?

Skeeter Sanders
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Monday, October 13, 2008

EXTRA! Hate Campaign Against Obama Triggers Rift Between McCain and Palin

GOP Vice Presidential Nominee's Determination to Raise Hot-Button 'Wedge Issues' on Campaign Trail, Rather Than Deal with Economy -- in Defiance of McCain's Wishes -- Is Driving a Wedge Between Them That Could Split the Republican Party in Two

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain (R-AZ) ...

Trouble on the campaign trail? Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, arrive at the airport at Allentown, Pennsylvania for a campaign rally last Wednesday. Forced on Friday to confront open animosity among his supporters against his Democratic rival, Barack Obama because of his ethnicity and religion, McCain has tried hard over the weekend to tamp down the anger. But Palin -- a darling of the GOP's far right wing -- will have none of it, insisting on bringing up highly emotional "wedge issues" such as abortion, instead of the number-one issue on the voters' minds: the economy. And that, according to a British newspaper, is causing a rift to develop between the GOP standard-bearers that could threaten party unity. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)

(Posted 12:00 noon EDT Monday, October 13, 2008)

NOTE TO READERS: I had not planned on publishing an article today, Columbus Day. However, news has broken in a British newspaper that I felt was far too important to wait until The 'Skeeter Bites Report's next regularly-scheduled issue on Thursday.

-- Skeeter Sanders, Editor & Publisher, The 'Skeeter Bites Report


By Sarah Baxter
The Times of London

With his electoral prospects fading by the day, Senator John McCain has fallen out with his vice-presidential running mate about the direction of his White House campaign.

McCain has become alarmed about the fury unleashed by Sarah Palin, the moose-hunting “pit bull in lipstick”, against Senator Barack Obama. Cries of “Terrorist!” and “Kill him!” have accompanied the tirades by the governor of Alaska against the Democratic nominee at Republican rallies.

Mark Salter, McCain’s long-serving chief of staff, is understood to have told campaign insiders that he would prefer his boss, a former Vietnam prisoner of war, to suffer an “honorable defeat” rather than conduct a campaign that would be out of character –- and likely to lose him the election.

The 44-year-old Palin has led the character attacks on Obama in the belief that McCain may be throwing away the election and her chance of becoming vice president. Her supporters think that if the Republican ticket loses on November 4, she should run for president in 2012.

A leading Republican consultant said: “A lot of conservatives are grumbling about what a poor job McCain is doing. They are rolling their eyes and saying, "Yes, a miracle could happen, but at this rate it is all over."


“Sarah Palin is no fool," the consultant said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "She sees the same thing and wants to salvage what she can. She is positioning herself for the future. Her best days could be in front of her. She wants to look as though she was the fighter, the person with the spunk who was out there taking it to the Democrats.”

The 72-year-old McCain has encouraged voters to contrast his character with Obama’s. The campaign launched a tough television commercial last week questioning, “Who is Barack Obama?”

Frank Keating, McCain’s campaign co-chairman, last week called the Democrat a “guy off the street” and said he should admit that he had "used cocaine."

[In fact, Obama did just that -- in his 1995 autobiography, Dreams from My Father, in which he also admitted using marijuana as a teenager. But he writes that he quit using drugs altogether when he entered college in 1979 -- and there is no evidence that he has used drugs since then.]


McCain believes the attacks have spun out of control. At a town hall-style meeting Friday in Lakeville, Minnesota, the Arizona senator became visibly angry when he was booed by his supporters for calling Obama "a decent person." He took the microphone from a woman who said she disliked Obama because he was "an Arab," telling her, "No ma’am, no ma’am."

[The woman, identified by the Reuters news agency as Gayle Quinnell, based her remark on a false but still-widely-held belief among many conservative white voters that Obama, the first African-American presidential nominee of a major American political party, is a foreign-born Muslim with ties to Islamic terrorists.

[Right-wing radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh has insisted that Obama is not half-black and half white -- the son of a Kenyan-born black father and a Kansas-born white mother -- but is of Arab descent.

[Obama, who was born in Hawaii in 1961, is actually a Christian -- although he did acknowledge in his autobiography that he attended both Roman Catholic and Muslim schools during his pre-teen years living with his mother in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.]

When another questioner demanded that McCain "tell the truth about Obama," he said: "I want everybody to be respectful and let’s be sure we are."


However, his campaign has stepped up its negative advertising against Obama, accusing him of lying about his relationship with William Ayers, the leader of the Weather Underground group responsible for bombing the Capitol and the Pentagon in the early 1970s, who is now a Chicago professor.

Palin has continued to lead the charge against Obama’s alleged lack of candor. At a rally in Wilmington, Ohio, she mocked him for attending a supporters’ meeting in Ayers’s home when he was seeking to become an Illinois state senator in 1995. "He didn’t know he launched his career in the living room of a domestic terrorist until he did know," Palin said.

"Some will say, 'Geez Sarah, it’s getting negative,'" Palin continued. "No, it’s not negativity. It’s truthfulness." The crowd bellowed its appreciation with chants of "Nobama!" and "Go Sarah Go!"


John Weaver, a former senior McCain adviser who left the campaign when it almost imploded in the summer of last year, questioned the purpose of the attacks.

"People need to understand, for moral reasons and the protection of our civil society, that the differences with Senator Obama are ideological, based on clear differences on policy and a lack of experience compared with Senator McCain," he said.

"And from a purely practical political vantage point, please find me a swing voter, an undecided independent, or a torn voter that finds an angry mob mentality attractive," Weaver added.

A McCain campaign official confirmed that there was dissension in the campaign. "There is always going to be a debate about the costs and benefits of any strategy," he said. "After November 4, the feelings of individuals will come to light. It is only natural and will be expected."


Palin’s frustration with McCain has led to clashes over strategy. When she learned he was pulling resources from Michigan, an industrial swing state leaning heavily in Obama’s favor, she fired off an e-mail saying, "Oh come on, do we have to?" and offered to travel there with her husband Todd, a four-time winner of Alaska's 2,000-mile Iron Dog snowmobile race.

She also told Bill Kristol, the conservative columnist for The New York Times, that she wished the campaign would make more of Obama’s 20-year association with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his controversial former pastor, who said, "God damn America."

[McCain has banned any discussion on Wright, fearing that his campaign would be accused by Obama supporters -- especially African-Americans -- of playing the "race card" against Obama if it did, as Hillary Clinton's unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic nomination was accused of doing during the hard-fought primary season.]

"To me, that does say something about character,” Palin said. "But you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring it up."

McCain’s allies responded by suggesting that Palin has her own pastor problems, such as the African minister who prayed to Jesus to protect her from witchcraft when she was running for governor.

[They apparently feared that it would be used against her in retaliation if the McCain camp went after Obama over Reverend Wright.]

McCain has told his campaign that attacks on religion are out of bounds. He rejected Palin’s advice to "take the gloves" off in his debate with Obama last week and did not refer to Ayers. It enabled Obama to rile McCain by asking why he did not have the nerve to attack him to his face.

[In fact, the debate rules and town hall format -- with questions asked by the audience -- effectively barred McCain from doing so].


When McCain finally got round to mentioning the Weather Underground at a rally last week, he described Ayres mildly as "an old washed-up terrorist."

[By that time, the global economic crisis was almost totally dominating the news, putting the economy front and center in the minds of the voters, to the exclusion of almost everything else.]

Despite the attacks, the 47-year-old Obama increased his average poll lead last week to eight points over McCain. The assaults on his character have enabled him to criticize McCain for "stoking anger and division" when the economy is collapsing.

McCain’s nosedive in the polls has closely tracked the collapse of Wall Street and the U.S. economy, but he has yet to find a winning economic policy. His proposed emergency 180-billion-pound (300-billion-dollar U.S.) buyout of distressed mortgages has been harshly criticized by his fellow Republicans.

Karl Rove, the former White House aide, claimed the housing bailout “came across as both impulsive and badly explained” when McCain suddenly announced it during last week’s debate with Obama.


A spokesman for McCain denied he and Palin had fallen out over her aggressive attacks. “Vice-presidential candidates are typically the tip of the spear and further out in front than the candidate for president. This is pretty standard fare,” he said.

However, Palin is no longer helping to attract women and independent voters to the Republican ticket. A poll for Fox News last week showed that while 47 percent of voters regard the Alaska governor favorably, 42 percent now have an unfavorable opinion of her.

Palin remains far more popular than McCain with the Republican Party's right-wing base. He regularly has to endure the spectacle of members of the audience leaving for their cars when it is his turn to speak at joint rallies.

In Wilmington, North Carolina, Palin’s many admirers were in no doubt that she should run for president next time. Nancy Ross, a hairdresser, 45, said if the Republicans lost the election, she would be cheered up by the thought of Palin as the 2012 nominee.

"I would absolutely love her to run in four years’ time. By then most of her kids will be grown," she said. "I’d like her to run against Hillary [Clinton]. She [Palin] would squash her. She is a real person and we need people like her in Washington."

Mary Ann Black, 58, a human resources director, said: "I love her. She’s so authentic." Although she thought highly of McCain as well, Black added: "Her career is just beginning and his is in the twilight."

(Additional reporting -- in brackets -- by Skeeter Sanders.)

# # #

Volume III, Number 65
Special Report Copyright 2008, Times Newspapers, Ltd.
The 'Skeeter Bites Report Copyright 2008, Skeeter Sanders. All rights reserved.

(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

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