Palin Aide Fires Back at Reported McCain Camp Slams

Says RNC, not Palin, was responsible for wardrobe missteps.

ByABC News
November 6, 2008, 9:14 AM

Nov. 6, 2008 — -- Now that the defeated Republican presidential team of Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin have gone their separate ways, the knives are out and Palin is the one who is getting filleted.

But longtime Palin staffer Meg Stapleton 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 and blaming her for the Republican National Committee's own missteps.

Revelations from anonymous critics from within the McCain-Palin campaign suggest a number of complaints about Palin.

However, Stapleton told ABC News the Fox News report on Africa and NAFTA was taken out of context. She explained 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 "she knows it's a continent," Stapleton said. "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."

Regarding the $150,000 worth of clothing, Stapleton claimed it was the campaign that said, "This is what you need as a VP candidate, and it was the campaign and/or the RNC [Republican National Committee] -- but it wasn't the governor -- saying this is what she needs."

Stapleton added that a New York stylist was told to go and make Palin look presidential, that Palin was simply presented with her wardrobe and staff and told, "Here's your people, here are your clothes."

The only items Palin remembers requesting from staff are toothpaste and coats for cold weather, Stapleton said.

Palin even saw a price tag of $3,500 on one suit jacket and said she didn't want to wear it, Stapleton said -- but she was told to wear it anyway.

Stapleton claimed there also was a directive to buy any and all clothes before Sept. 4, the day the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., ended, so that it could be buried as part of other convention costs.

"They said, 'Bill the convention under wardrobe so that the cost could be hidden,'" Stapleton said. "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 would reimburse them."

The person who paid for the clothing in the end was a wealthy GOP donor, Stapleton said.

The campaign also bought clothing for the Palin children so they, too, would look nice, Stapleton added.

When somebody realized the Palins didn't have any suitcases to bring the new clothes on the campaign trail, Stapleton said Palin e-mailed her husband Todd to bring her suitcases with him. But instead, the campaign bought luggage.

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

Regarding the concession speech, Stapleton said a McCain-Palin campaign speechwriter was flown in to write words for Palin to deliver Tuesday night after the election. But after a discussion, aides decided only McCain would speak that evening -- not Palin. Stapleton said 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.