The veteran Republican operative who could help guide Sarah Palin into the 2012 presidential race has a close friendship with Todd Palin to thank for his new role. He is now at the top of the former Alaska governor's political hierarchy.
Friends and associates of Michael Glassner, whom Palin recently hired to be her chief of staff, say it was Todd who reached out to him in recent weeks and urged him to come aboard. His task: to bring some order to Palin's far-flung and highly-insular circle of advisers.
At a speaking appearance in Long Island, New York on Thursday Palin said she "hired a chief of staff because, to tell you the truth, Todd's getting kind of tired of doing it all for me." And her comment likely rings true for just about anyone who has seen the ad hoc nature of her political operation.
It now falls on the shoulders of Glassner, a veteran of Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign and a long-time aide to former Sen. Bob Dole, to professionalize Team Palin.
"Governor Palin's done incredibly well flying by the seat of her pants," said Glassner's friend Scott Reed, a former presidential campaign manager for Sen. Bob Dole. "But Michael will be trying to get a semblance of a structure in place so they can operate better and service her better."
At least initially, sources close to Glassner expect him to do the job from New Jersey where he lives with his wife and two young daughters. Former colleagues describe him as a detail-oriented, fiercely loyal person who "takes great pride in flying under the radar." They also say he is a "fitness nut" and, along with his wife, a dedicated vegetarian. (It's unclear how that might clash with Palin's love of hunting big game animals and her ability to field dress a moose.)
Palin's handful of aides seemed to welcome his arrival. With individuals working for her in California, Texas and Washington, coordination has been difficult.
During the 2010 election cycle Glassner was a supporter of Alaska's GOP Senate candidate Joe Miller, whom Palin endorsed. Campaign aides said he offered advice and helped make important contacts throughout the campaign in an unpaid role.
Glassner first met the Palins when he joined the McCain campaign as the director of vice presidential operations in 2008. He was responsible for scheduling and logistics, and perhaps most importantly, keeping Sarah and Todd Palin happy. And by all accounts, he did, authorizing a group of junior staff members who traveled with Palin to spend as much as $28,000 on clothes and other incidentals for the vice presidential nominee as she crisscrossed the country.
Originally brought aboard as Palin's traveling chief of staff, Glassner was quickly relieved of his duties and, instead, spent the months between the Republican National Convention in August 2008 and Election Day behind a desk at McCain campaign headquarters in Arlington, Va. From there he handled Palin's schedule, her advance work and the mechanics of getting her from event to event.
One former McCain aide described Glassner as a "low-key" behind-the-scenes type who was not involved in strategy decisions, while another referred to him as "one of a circle of enablers" surrounding Palin who reinforced her worst behavior. The source said he bypassed the campaign's chain of command in approving the hefty credit card charges.