McCain campaign aides have launched a full-scale smear attack on Sarah Palin to blunt criticisms that they bungled a winnable election.
The McCain campaign reportedly was furious over moves by running mate Sarah Palin indicating that she was looking beyond the 2008 race and setting her sights on the White House in four or eight years.
A “civil war” raged between the McCain and Palin camps from mid-September up until McCain’s concession speech on Tuesday night, The New York Times reported.
Already McCain aides have been leaking negative stories about Palin, citing, among other stories, that the Republican National Committee paid $150,000 for clothing and accessories for her and her family.
McCain advisers have claimed she didn’t prepare for a Katie Couric interview, and she refused to take advice from the McCain campaign.
But the Times even had to acknowledge the real reason for the post-election sniping.
“But beyond those episodes may be a greater subtext: anger within the McCain camp that Ms. Palin harbored political ambitions beyond 2008,” Elisabeth Bumiller disclosed in The Times.
As late as Tuesday night, Palin was lobbying to deliver her own speech before McCain’s concession address, even though vice-presidential candidates traditionally do not speak on election night.
Palin actually had the text of her speech in hand when she met up with McCain, but was told she could not deliver it by McCain advisers Mark Salter and Steve Schmidt, according to The Times.
McCain staffers also were irked because of suspicions that Palin campaign advisers were defending her to the press.
In particular, they suspected Randy Scheunemann, a McCain policy aide who played a major role in preparing Palin for the vice-presidential debate.
CNN reported that Scheunemann had been fired from the campaign a week before Election Day for “trashing” McCain staffers to the press over their handling of Palin.
But McCain staffers Salter and Rick Davis said Wednesday that Scheunemann had not been fired.
Nevertheless, McCain advisers still believe Scheunemann was leaking negative information about McCain’s top aides and their efforts to smear Palin to William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard and a New York Times columnist.
The “civil war” between the two Republican campaigns came to a head several days before the election, when news broke that Palin had taken a call from Marc-Antoine Audette, a comedian notorious for prank calls to celebrities.
Palin apparently believed she was talking with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
At one point, the caller suggested that Palin would make a good president someday, and Palin replied: “Maybe in eight years.”
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