Is internal strife rippling through McCain-Palin campaign?
WASHINGTON – As the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign enters its final week, reports are bubbling up about internal strife within the Republican ticket that suggest vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is trying to distance herself from the top of the ticket, John McCain.
Palin over the last few weeks has publicly expressed her differences with McCain on issues such as a constitutional ban on gay marriage, the campaign’s decision to no longer contest Democrats in Michigan and her distaste for automated calls that have drawn scrutiny.
Politico.com reported this weekend that Palin has also cast aside advice from former George W. Bush aides assigned to help her on the campaign trail, citing their handling of her debut. She was roundly criticized for her poor performance in her initial national media interviews.
The report said:
Those Palin supporters, inside the campaign and out, said Palin blames her handlers for a botched rollout and a tarnished public image — even as others in McCain’s camp blame the pick of the relatively inexperienced Alaska governor, and her public performance, for McCain’s decline.
“She’s lost confidence in most of the people on the plane,” said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to “go rogue” in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.
After that story emerged, CNN reported that aides from the McCain side of the house were fighting back, including quoting one unnamed aide who described Palin as a “diva” and that she was looking out for her own political future in case they do not win the White House next week.
The report said:
McCain sources say Palin has gone off-message several times, and they privately wonder whether the incidents were deliberate. They cited an instance in which she labeled robocalls — recorded messages often used to attack a candidate’s opponent — “irritating” even as the campaign defended their use. Also, they pointed to her telling reporters she disagreed with the campaign’s decision to pull out of Michigan.
A second McCain source says she appears to be looking out for herself more than the McCain campaign.
“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone,” said this McCain adviser. “She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else.
The reports of the internal strife come as McCain and Palin have been for weeks trailing the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden in national polls and in a tight battle for states that traditionally have been Republican strongholds like Colorado and Virginia.
– Photo credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder (Palin and McCain get off their campaign bus last week in Ohio.)