Sarah Palin Takes Aim at McCain Staffers in Upcoming Book

Much of "Going Rogue" is dedicated to family and contains few policy proposals.

ByKate Snow
November 13, 2009, 1:34 PM

Nov. 13, 2009 -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's upcoming book is titled "Going Rogue," but the book might well be called "Payback Time."

ABC News was able to purchase a copy of the 413-page memoir on Friday. The book, which has been topping Amazon's lists for weeks now, is titled after a term Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign aides used to use to describe Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential pick, when she didn't follow directions. It was made famous by Tina Fey, who portrayed Palin on "Saturday Night Live."

In the book, Palin talks about everything from moose eyeballs to her love of books, how her faith helped guide her career and how just before McCain chose her as his running mate, she was growing "impatient" with politics.

The former Alaska governor calls McCain's aides all business, with "not a lot of camaraderie" and a "jaded aura" about some of them. She goes on to say that they kept her "all bottled up" from the news media.

Former McCain aides are already responding to that accusation.

McCain's former speechwriter Mark Salter told ABC News the campaign made a calculated decision on how to handle media.

"After we had been criticized in the press for a lack of disciplined messaging earlier in the campaign when we provided frequent and unscheduled access to the candidate, we felt it necessary to adopt the same deliberativeness and discipline employed by our opponents and rely less on impromptu press conferences with our traveling press, and more on interviews arranged in advance," he said.

The news that there was tension between the vice presidential candidate and McCain's aides is not new, but it is the first time Palin has admitted it openly.

In the book, which documents her experience as McCain's running mate, Palin recalls how she felt before the vice presidential debate in Philadelphia.

"Suddenly I felt like I was on thin ice," Palin says of the moment she realized the debate preparation was not going so well.

She tells the story of top aide Steve Schmidt suggesting the campaign fly in a nutritionist.

"He launched into a discussion of nutrition philosophy," Palin writes, "holding forth on the importance of carbohydrates to cognitive connections."

A source in the position to know says it was an uncomfortable discussion, but it was never about brain function. Aides were concerned that Palin had been dieting and losing too much weight, the source said.

Tune In: Barbara Walters sits down with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for a five-part series which will begin airing on "Good Morning America" Nov. 17.

The former beauty queen also describes being saddled by the campaign with a $50,000 bill for the cost of vetting her as a vice presidential candidate.

"In early 2009, as our legal defense bills piled up, Todd and I retreated to my quiet bedroom office and sat down for a sobering look at our finances. By then, we were faced with attorney's bills that would grow to more than $500,000 -- a lot more than my total salary for all the time I'd served as governor. Then Meg broke the news that a large chunk of those bills -- nearly $50,000 -- was courtesy of the campaign," Palin writes. "It was our portion of the bill for having been vetted! I had no idea, nor was I ever told, that we would have to pay personally to go through the VP selection process. (If I had, I would have kept my answers shorter!)."

"Meg and Tom made polite inquiries with the RNC and the remnants of 'headquarters' to see whether the McCain campaign could help with these expenses. The word came back from on high: if we had won the election, they would have paid; but we lost, so the responsibility was mine. Looking on the bright side, though, if anyone questions whether I was properly vetted, at least now I can tell them, 'Yes, and I have the bill to prove it!'"

Campaign aides deny that they ever billed Palin for the vetting process.

Family Matters

Much of the book, written quickly by Palin at a kitchen table in a tiny apartment in San Diego, is dedicated to family.

Palin writes about standing in the bathroom of a hotel room and seeing the news announcing that her teenage daughter Bristol was pregnant.

"I nearly gagged on my toothbrush," Palin writes. "Oh God, I thought, here we go."

She was upset that the campaign accidently released a statement she had tried to revise, saying she and husband Todd were proud of Bristol's decision to keep the baby.

"In no way did I want to send the message that teenage pregnancy was something to endorse, much less glamorize," she pens.

Palin never mentions her grandson's father, Levi Johnston, who has criticized the Palin family for being too dominating. But in an interview with Oprah Winfrey to air next week, Palin suggested he would be welcomed at the Thanksgiving table.

"It's lovely to think that he would ever even consider such a thing," Palin told Winfrey. "Because, of course, you want -- he is a part of the family and you want to bring him in the fold and kind of under your wing. And he needs that, too, Oprah. I think he needs to know that he is loved and he has the most beautiful child and this can all work out for good. It really can. We don't have to keep going down this road of controversy and drama all the time. We're not really into the drama. We don't really like that. We're more productive."

Despite rumors of marital problems, Palin writes that her marriage to Todd is strong.

On watching a shirtless Todd hold baby Trigg, she writes, "Dang, I thought, divorce Todd? Have you seen Todd?"

Palin's Political Future

"Going Rogue" is not filled with policy prescriptions -- Palin does not spend much time on health care or Iraq and Afghanistan -- but she does suggest new tax cuts, more oil drilling, and says President Obama should not "project weakness to terrorists and tyrants."

While her harshest criticisms are reserved for Democrats, Palin also says Republicans have lost their principles.

"People look at the Republican Party today -- the supposedly conservative party -- and say 'what happened to the Reagan legacy?' And we deserve that criticism," she writes.

Palin will criss-cross the country's interior beginning next week to promote her book, but she'll avoid major cities and political battlegrounds.

So is Palin, who captured the nation's attention when she emerged on the national stage as McCain's vice presidential pick, really looking at a run in 2012?

The answer to that remains unclear. Palin writes that if seeking higher office alone had been her ambition, she would have finished her term as Alaska's governor. But she also says her dad got it right when he said, "Sarah's not retreating, she's reloading."

And the very last line of the last chapter sure reads like a campaign poster: "Stand now. Stand Together. Stand for what is right."

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