Sarah Palin is blaming gender bias for the controversy over $150,000 worth of designer clothes, hairstyling and accessories the Republican Party provided for her, a newspaper reported Thursday.
"I think Hillary Clinton was held to a different standard in her primary race," Palin said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune posted on the newspaper's Web site Thursday night. "Do you remember the conversations that took place about her, say superficial things that they don't talk about with men, her wardrobe and her hairstyles, all of that? That's a bit of that double standard."
Palin, who is John McCain's vice presidential running mate, said the clothes were not worth $150,000 and were bought for the Republican National Convention.
Most of the clothes have never left the campaign plane, she told the newspaper.
"It's kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported," Palin said.
"That whole thing is just, bad!" she said. "Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are."
News of the purchases of designer clothes, largely from upscale Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, contrasts with the image Palin has crafted as a typical "hockey mom."
McCain was asked several questions on Thursday about the shopping spree -- and he answered each one more or less the same way: Palin needed clothes and they'll be donated to charity.
"She needed clothes at the time. They'll be donated at end of this campaign. They'll be donated to charity," McCain told reporters on his campaign bus between Florida rallies.
Asked for details on how they'll be donated, McCain said, "It works by her getting some clothes when she was made the nominee of the party and it will be donated back to charity."
Asked if he was surprised at the amount spent, McCain said, "It works that the clothes will be donated to charity. Nothing surprises me."
McCain offered no further comment, except to say that the Republican National Committee doesn't buy his clothes.
Also on Thursday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a private watchdog group in Washington, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Palin, the Republican National Committee and several political operatives alleging that the purchase of clothing for Palin and her family violates Federal Election Campaign Act.
The law prohibits a candidate for federal office from converting campaign funds to personal use. CREW notes that FEC regulations make clear the prohibition applies to clothing but also provide that donations by candidates to charity are not for personal use. CREW argued this exception might apply to Palin's clothes but doesn't appear to apply to clothes for her family.
Asked Wednesday who had paid for the suit he was wearing, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden told WSLS-TV in Roanoke, Va.: "I pay for my suits. I pay for all of my own clothing."
McCain also said that Barack Obama's money advantage is probably why one Florida poll shows the Democrat doing well in the state. A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday showed Obama up 5 percentage points overall in Florida, which went Republican in the last two presidential elections.
They spent more, that's the element," McCain said. "If it's true -- organization. But we've energized volunteers, we'll get our vote out."