Palin Aide Offers Strong Rebuke to Criticisms

Nov 6, 2008 4:42pm

ABC’s Kate Snow reports: A longtime aide to Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin is lashing back at anonymous critics within the McCain-Palin presidential campaign, telling ABC News they are attacking the former vice presidential candidate with distortions.

Meg Stapleton offers an explanation of some of the more stinging criticisms that have come out in recent days since the McCain-Palin defeat.

Regarding the $150,000 worth of clothing the campaign bought Palin, Stapleton says a New York stylist was given a blank check and told to go and make Palin look presidential.

According to Stapleton, Palin saw a price tag of $3,500 on one outfit and said she didn’t want to wear it. Stapleton says Palin was simply presented with her wardrobe and staff.  Palin was told "here’s your people, here are your clothes.”

Stapleton adds that the McCain staffers tried to hide the cost of the wardrobe. “They said, ‘bill the convention under wardrobe so that the cost could be hidden.’ And then they realized and they were told that’s illegal. So then they said, ‘OK, how do we make this legal and appropriate?’ So they had somebody pay for it and then the RNC (Republican National Committee) would reimburse them.”

According to Stapleton, the campaign said, "’this is what you need as a VP candidate.’ It was the campaign and/or the RNC … But it wasn’t the governor saying this is what she needs."

Stapleton says $150,000 was the original bill for the clothing, but after some merchandise was returned, the cost went down to $107,000.

There was also a directive to buy any and all clothes before Sept. 4, the day the Republican convention in St. Paul ended, so that it could be buried as part of other convention costs. The campaign also bought clothing for the children, so they, too, would look nice, Stapleton added.

Regarding another stinging criticism, Stapleton claims that the Fox News report Thursday — that quoted unnamed sources inside the now defunct McCain campaign, saying Palin didn’t know Africa is a continent — was taken out of context.

Stapleton says that during a briefing session, someone asked Palin to explain the McCain-Palin stance on an issue, and as she was responding, "in the middle, she said, ‘country of Africa’ and somebody instantly wrote it down, and said, ‘Oh, my God, she thinks it’s a country.’"

But Stapleton insists, "She knows it’s a continent. It was just a human mistake, just like Obama saying 57 states. I don’t think anyone ever doubted that Obama knows there are 50 states."

Stapleton adds that a McCain-Palin campaign speechwriter was flown in to write a speech for Governor Palin to deliver Tuesday night after the election results were in. But after a discussion, aides decided Palin would not give a speech that evening — only McCain would speak.

Stapleton says Palin didn’t understand why they would bring in a speechwriter and then not use the speech they wrote for her which was complimentary of McCain.

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