November 8, 2008 in Nation/World

Palin calls McCain aides ‘jerks,’ cruel

By Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston Los Angeles Times
Associated Press photo

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin talks to media after she arrived at her office in Anchorage, Alaska, on Friday.
(Full-size photo)

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin swung back hard Friday against aides to John McCain who have criticized her foreign policy knowledge and pricey wardrobe purchases, calling them “jerks” who were too cowardly to speak publicly.

The former Republican vice presidential nominee told reporters in Anchorage, Alaska, that a recent Fox News report – citing unnamed campaign sources – that said she did not know Africa was a continent and could not name the countries involved the North American Free Trade Agreement was false and that her comments were taken out of context.

“That’s cruel. It’s mean-spirited. It’s immature. It’s unprofessional, and those guys are jerks if they came away with it, taking things out of context, and then tried to spread something on national news. It’s not fair and not right,” Palin told CNN in an interview.

Palin’s fierce defense was part of a broader push back Friday by her loyal aides as she resumes her duties as governor and tries to repair some of the damage done in the rough-and-tumble of the campaign. Although Palin has brushed off questions about whether she will run for president in 2012, her supporters are eager to correct what they see as unfair attacks.

Since McCain was defeated in Tuesday’s presidential election, some of his aides have said that as much as $30,000 in clothing was purchased for Palin after the Republican convention in September. That would be on top of the $150,000 in wardrobe purchases made for the Palins by the Republican National Committee, which were reported on September and October Federal Election Commission filings.

The aides – who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not comfortable discussing the campaign’s inner workings – asserted that some members of Palin’s traveling staff charged clothing for the nominee and her family on their personal credit cards and have submitted reimbursement requests to the RNC.

The campaign has said at least one-third of the $150,000 in purchases – which included a $75,062 spree at Neiman Marcus and a $49,425 trip to Saks Fifth Avenue – were returned.

Palin made that clear in her interviews Friday.

“The RNC purchased clothes. Those are the RNC’s clothes; they’re not my clothes. I never forced anybody to buy any,” she told CNN. “I never asked for anything more than a Diet Dr. Pepper once in a while.”

In an interview Friday, McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann, who prepared Palin for her debate with Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, bristled at the charges that Palin lacked a basic understanding of Africa and NAFTA. He too said the reports were inaccurate.

“The real Sarah Palin is not the caricature put out by these dishonest leakers,” Scheunemann said. “The reality is she is a tough, capable, knowledgeable and focused politician.”

Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email