An unprecedented bitter public-relations war is underway by the John McCain camp to rehabilitate the image of the vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
All eyes will be on the Alaska governor tonight at the GOP convention as pundits and party faithful alike wonder if the embattled McCain running mate can silence her attackers in one grand rhetorical flourish.
Assaulted with hype from “Troopergate” to whether or not she was properly vetted for the job that’s just a heartbeat away from the presidency, Palin will launch her much anticipated prime-time address on the heels of a massive PR assault against her detractors.
The Palin speech is but the highlight of the PR juggernaut scheduled to proceed this moment in the spotlight for the activist, sportswoman, and mom.
In myriad press releases today, the McCain campaign led with the announcement of a forthcoming Palin TV ad that will remind voters why maverick McCain tapped the relative unknown in the first place.
According to the release, the ad will be directly comparing Gov. Palin’s executive experience as “a governor who oversees 24,000 state employees, 14 statewide Cabinet agencies, and a $ 10 billion budget to Barack Obama’s experience as a one-term junior senator from Illinois.”
The campaign went on to outline some of its other battle plans for the day: Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be on all three network and cable television stations defending Gov. Palin’s family and her historic candidacy. Former Democratic vice presidential nominee and current U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman and Congressman Eric Cantor will hold a press conference calling on Barack Obama to condemn and/or dismiss his official campaign spokesman who implied Gov. Sarah Palin supported Nazi sympathy because she wore a Pat Buchanan pin on a single occasion. McCain-Palin surrogates Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman, McCain senior adviser Nicolle Wallace, McCain Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker and McCain senior adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer will do television and radio interviews to demand better treatment for Palin’s family.
Meanwhile, the McCain campaign is hoping to slam the door shut on some of the issues that don't seem to go away.
‘Faux Media Scandal’
Senior adviser Steve Schmidt told Politico today in no uncertain terms that the campaign will have no more comment about the vetting process.
“Sarah Palin is an exceptional governor with a record of accomplishment that exceeds, by far, the governing accomplishments of Senator Obama,” noted Schmidt. “Her selection came after a six-month long rigorous vetting process where her extraordinary credentials and exceptionalism (sic) became clear.
“This vetting controversy is a faux media scandal designed to destroy the first female Republican nominee for vice president of the United States who has never been a part of the old boys’ network that has come to dominate the news establishment in this country.
“Senator McCain picked his governing partner after a long and thorough search. Governor Palin looks forward to addressing the nation and laying out the fundamental choice this election represents for the American people.”
However, as soon as one door gets shut, a whole new portal swings ajar.
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess how directly Palin will address each allegation — if she chooses to address them at all.
There are plenty still lingering in the bloggers’ realm, as well as the mainstream media: ABC’s Jake Tapper reported that Palin was once a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, which wanted to secede from the union. Tom Daschle lambasted Palin as having “absolutely no experience” and being “extreme right wing.” The Washington Post’s Sally Quinn queried whether a woman with five children — one having Down syndrome — would be able to fit in her family priorities if she were vice president. Bloggers questioned whether Palin’s fifth child was actually daughter Bristol Palin’s child. CNN’s James Carville claimed that because Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan, she would not be attractive to Democrats. Liberal radio host Ed Schultz said that Palin was an “empty pantsuit” and should ring alarms for a “bimbo alert.”
If there is a silver lining to the Palin storm clouds, perhaps Democratic strategist Joe Trippi put it best in a remark to ABC News.
“All this controversy’s going to create a huge audience for her speech whether she walks out there and blows it or hits it out of the park,” Trippi said. “With every question, with every controversy, the audience gets bigger so that when she walks out there, it could be one of the most dramatic moments of either convention.”
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