… and whose brilliant idea it was to keep Palin away from the conservative media while throwing her to CBS?
Palin was being handled by Nicolle Wallace, a veteran of the hardball politics of the Bush-Cheney campaign (she had been a press-bashing director of communications). Recruited by Schmidt, Wallace had come from a stint as a commentator at CBS. She had the disastrous idea of making Palin available only for a series of high-profile media interviews, and then overprepared her with a cram course of talking points. It was embarrassing to watch Palin grope for answers to Katie Couric’s questions—and thanks to YouTube, more than 10 million voters witnessed it. “She is not a dumb person,” said a senior McCain adviser. “She is an intelligent person, but we made her so uptight.” Some old McCain hands on the campaign were sharply critical of the Bush-Cheney alumni brought onboard by Schmidt. Wallace and the others had not only botched the handling of Palin, in the view of the old McCainiacs; they didn’t understand that McCain needed to be McCain. (Wallace took responsibility, in an edgy kind of way: “I keep trying to get someone to write that it’s my stupid strategy,” she told a NEWSWEEK reporter. “I should be fired. I’ve offered my resignation twice in the spirit of Dwight D. Eisenhower, taking responsibility, and no one will take it.” In truth, Wallace was in a tough place: Palin was no longer taking much coaching from her. Feeling that she had been overmanaged for her one-on-one debut with a network anchor—Charlie Gibson of ABC—Palin had rebuffed Wallace’s help with her Couric interview.)
This was a huge tactical error. Even people like myself, who are not campaign veterans of any kind, remarked on the obtuse stupidity of the move.
TigerHawk wants Palin in the Senate, taking over Stevens seat.
I disagree. She must build a reputation as an effective, responsible governor. Palin should not only continue to add to her executive/administrative experience as governor, but the stink of Stevens’s indictment would carry over to her if she were to take his seat. Palin should build on her strengths as an outsider to the inside-the-beltway crowd.
Let the Alaskans hold a special election if they must.
Instead, Betsy suggests a plan of action for Palin:
- Read up on conservative ideas and policies
- Guest on conservative radio
- Writing columns on issues rather as Fred Thompson has been doing,
In fact, I’d recommend that she get to know Fred Thompson better and find a way to couple her energy with his ability to understand and explain conservative positions.
- Show up at campaigns in 2010
- And work the Sunday TV talk shows
To Betsy’s suggestions I add that she continue showing up at Larry Kudlow’s show every time he discusses energy policy. Palin would be a wonderful guest at CPAC, for instance, and other conservative venues. She should also help with Republican fundraising, too.
She has proven to be a riveting presence. Now she needs to become a formidable candidate. The choice is hers.