O: Joining us now from
with the inside story on the governor’s odyssey, FOXNews Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron who has covered the entire McCain campaign. Alright, let’s take it from the beginning, in the, um, convention in, uh, *sniff* Minneapolis-St.Paul everybody was happy big bump, this-and-that. When did the first signs of tension develop? Phoenix
C: Well, it was actually before the convention. There were some people in the McCain campaign who thought that the selection of Sarah Palin was risky because the didn’t believe that she had enough knowledgeability to carry it off, and there were some objections. The McCain campaign needed a game-changer, they said as much. Some might even describe the selection of Palin as something like a Hail Mary. But early on, they began to discover that there were these gaps in her knowledge. I just want to rattle off a couple of the things that insiders say she simply didn’t know. There were real problems with basic civics: government structures, municipal, state and federal government responsibilities. She didn’t know the nations involved in the North American Free Trade Agreement we’re told. Those, of course, being the
U.S., Canada, and . NAFTA: a major campaign issue that woulda been something of a deficit. We’re told that she didn’t, she wasn’t actually able to name all the countries in North America as part of that debate, and she didn’t understand – McCain aides told me today – that Africa was a continent and not a country, and actually asked them, they argue, they say if South Ameri- South Africa wasn’t just part of the country as opposed to a country in the continent. They go on to say that she didn’t understand the idea of American Exceptionalism – a classic principle of Wilsonian doctrine that says that the Mexico is exceptional in the world and therefore has a very special role in leading the globe. United States
O: Yeah, okay. So her frame-of-reference in history and geography and current events was weak, according to your sources. And so that – but she can be tutored. I mean, the woman’s not a stupid woman. Ah…
C: That’s right.
O: You, you can tutor people, and you can get people up to speed on the basics of, “here’s the government, here’s the excpetionalism that we’re talking about, here’s the world map, here’s our interactions. So it’s gotta be more than that. Go.
C: Well, one of the things that happened was that she took a little bit of interview preparation before the Charlie Gibson ABC interview, and by most accounts that went fairly well, although she was left a little bit irritated by some of the questions and the general reporting of that interview. But then, the Katie Couric interview came and for that the refused any interview preparation. It didn’t go well, and she blamed, ostensibly, Nicole Wallis, a senior adviser who, in fact, worked for CBS with Katie Couric and had organized some of that interview, and then the rift really began to sort of unfold. That refusal of debate prep caused some problems.
O: Alright, so she didn’t wanna be, uh, bogged down with a lesson before Ms Couric talked to her, and then she goes in to talk to Couric, and it “doesn’t go well”? What does that mean?
O: I mean, what was the deficit of the interview?
C: Well, in fact, McCain aides will argue that there were no unfair questions from Katie Couric, though the reporting of the interview might have been snarky and an example of the mainstream media beating up on a Republican conservative and a woman. They argue that the questions from Couric, on the merits, weren’t unfair. Well, afterwards, Palin began to attack staff and suggest that she was mishandled, and communicated that to a handful of people both in the McCain/Palin campaign and outside.
O: What was her beef that she was mishandled?
C: Well, that she hadn’t been warned. That she hadn’t been steered to opportunities where there might have been a more friendly audience, and mostly she said that she wanted to get out on the campaign trail and speak and defend herself. That was something that the campaign was definitely afraid that she wasn’t prepared to do, so there was resistance. Now, there are other anecdotes, Bill.
O: That’s what happened with me. I talked to her on the phone, she wanted to do the interview, and then the McCain people wouldn’t put her out there alone. The senator had a sit-down next to her and logistically we just couldn’t pull it off. Okay. So all of this now makes perfect sense up to… say a week ago. Then there were reports that Sarah Palin herself, under the pressure – and she was under enormous pressure – started to crack. Is that true?
C: Yeah. There are stories that say she would look at her press clippings in the morning and throw what has been described to me as tantrums. The way I understand it, there were time when she would be so nasty and angry, uh, at staff that they would virtually be reduced to tears, there was the throwing of paperwork and things of this nature. And a whole series of descriptions, anecdotes all, from the McCain campaign and other insider side of it that suggest a certain level of performance that they were caught off-guard by. One of the more infamous stories that’s now come out is that there was a time when McCain staffers went to collect her at her hotel room and she had just stepped out of the shower and essentially met them wrapped in a bathrobe. They were taken aback by that, found it rather uncommon. They have suggested that she is a bit of a shopaholic, and that on more than one occasion she would go out and buy clothes that to many seemed unnecessary because the campaign had already provided her with a very large wardrobe. Ah, a wardrobe that famously rang up a bill of about $150,000, mostly because they bought extra sizes to make sure everything fit. But the aides say she took a lot of extra clothes.
O: That sounds like nit-picking now, you know?
C: Oh, listen. There’s a lot of back-biting that’s going on here, not just between the McCain staff and Palin, but also within the McCain staff, and last week Randy Schuneman, the former foreign policy adviser for the McCain campaign was fired for allegedly leaking some of the back-biting about Palin. He is reported to have been a real Palin fan and didn’t like the fact that they were nailing her and talking behind her back. He put it in the newspapers, and for that he was fired! Well, at the last minute, the McCain campaign – Senator McCain himself – said that, “let’s not make that public, let’s keep it quiet.” That’s not the kind of message that they want. He had been under fire for a chaotic campaign that was often sort of contradicting itself and wrapped up in this type of pettiness. It was almost omnipresent in the staff in the final week, not withstanding Senator McCain’s campaigning barnstorming at a frenzied pace around the country. This is something that the campaign staff says was unprecedented.