McCain Camp Denies that Sarah Palin was a Member of the Buchanan Brigades in the 1990s

By Julia Hoppock

Aug 30, 2008 2:23pm

A meme is developing out there among liberals that Gov. Sarah Palin was a supporter of Pat Buchanan in the 1990s, a charge that the McCain-Palin campaign strongly denies.

The evidence is the following, as first noticed by "The Nation": in an Associated Press story from July 17, 1999, titled, "Buchanan takes conservative message to Fairbanks."

"Pat Buchanan brought his conservative message of a smaller government and an America First foreign policy to Fairbanks and Wasilla on Friday as he continued a campaign swing through Alaska….In Wasilla, Buchanan took some shots at the "Republican establishment," saying it was willing to cast aside conservative ideals in a zeal to ensure the nomination for Bush.  ‘I’m hoping the people of Alaska will disagree that we need a candidate anointed by Washington, D.C.,’ he said to a group of three dozen supporters. Among those sporting Buchanan buttons were Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin and state Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Anchorage."

Palin wrote to the AP that her presence at the rally and her wearing a Buchanan button were merely ways to welcome Buchanan to Wasilla, not endorsements of his candidacy.

But that’s not quite how Buchanan remembers it.

Buchanan told Chris Matthews yesterday that Palin "was a brigader in 1996 as was her husband, Chris, they were at a fundraiser for me, she’s a terrific gal, she’s a rebel reformer."

McCain-Palin campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb writes: "Governor Palin has never worked for any effort to elect Pat Buchanan — that assertion is completely false. As Mayor of Wasilla, Sarah Palin did attend an event with Mr. Buchanan in her home town where reports described her wearing a Buchanan for President button. She wore the button as a courtesy to Mr. Buchanan and in an effort to make him feel welcome during his visit, but immediately sent a letter to the editor of her local paper clarifying that the button should not have been interpreted as an endorsement of any kind."

Buchanan of course has a long history of quite questionable comments, particularly about Jews.

Rep. Bob Wexler, D-Florida, took the AP report, and said "John McCain’s decision to select a vice presidential running mate that endorsed Pat Buchanan for president in 2000 is a direct affront to all Jewish Americans. Pat Buchanan is a Nazi sympathizer with a uniquely atrocious record on Israel, even going as far as to denounce bringing former Nazi soldiers to justice and praising Adolf Hitler for his ‘great courage.’ At a time when standing up for Israel’s right to self-defense has never been more critical, John McCain has failed his first test of leadership and judgment by selecting a running mate who has aligned herself with a leading anti-Israel voice in American politics. It is frightening that John McCain would select someone one heartbeat away from the presidency who supported a man who embodies vitriolic anti-Israel sentiments."

The McCain campaign says that instead of supporting Buchanan — or even McCain — in 2000, Palin actually supported Steve Forbes.

And indeed, another AP story from August 7, 1999 — one month after the Buchanan trip to Wasilla — states that joining state sen. Mike Miller of Fairbanks on the Forbes campaign’s Alaska "leadership committee will be Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin, and former state GOP chairman Pete Hallgren, who will serve as co-chairs."

– jpt

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