On the afternoon of Oct. 2, 2008 — the day of the vice presidential debate last year — Politico’s Jonathan Martin broke the news that Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) presidential campaign was “pulling out of Michigan.” The next day, vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told Fox News’ Carl Cameron that she disagreed with the decision. “I fired a quick e-mail and said, oh, come on. Do we have to call it there?” said Palin. “I want to get back to Michigan and I want to try.”
But in her interview with Oprah Winfrey, which aired yesterday, Palin claimed that she only “went rogue” on the Michigan message because she “didn’t know we pulled out of Michigan”:
WINFREY: Didn’t several times they say to you when actually you mentioned, when you were talking about pulling out of Michigan and you said I wished we’d stayed in Michigan. Weren’t you told then, Sarah just stay on script?
PALIN: Right, told after wards and that, that was always puzzling to me because if I were to respond to a reporter’s questions very candidly, honestly, for instance, they say, “what do you think about the campaign pulling out of Michigan” and I think, “darn I wish we weren’t. Every vote matters, I can’t wait to get back to Michigan” and then told afterwards that, “oh, you screwed up. You went rogue on us Sarah, you’re not supposed to be.” And my reminder to the campaign was, I didn’t know we pulled out of Michigan. My entire VP team, we didn’t know that we had pulled out. I’m sorry, I apologize, but speaking candidly to a reporter.
Clearly, if Palin told Cameron that she had sent an e-mail to the McCain high command disagreeing with the move, she knew that the decision had been made. Additionally, in their reported book on Sarah Palin, former Fox News embed Shushannah Walshe and CBS News digital journalist Scott Conroy reveal that Palin knew she had made a mistake in her interview with Cameron:
The e-mail that Palin sent was, in fact, essentially how she described it to Cameron. She wrote to her traveling staff and top McCain advisers, “If there’s any time, Todd and I would love a quick return to Michigan-we’d tour the plants, etc. . . . If it does McC any good. I know you have a plan, but I hate to see us leave Michigan. We’ll do whatever we had [sic] to do there to give it a 2nd effort.”
A senior aide replied, “Michigan is out of reach unless something drastic happens. We must win oh and hopefully pa.”
Palin replied that she “got it,” but her subsequent interview with Cameron had shown that she hadn’t. She acknowledged as much in a post-interview e-mail to senior staff, writing, “Oops-I mentioned something about that to Carl Cameron and it’s now recorded that I’d love to give Michigan the ol’ college try.” Later in the day, she tried once more. “It’s a cheap 4hr drive from WI. I’ll pay for the gas,” she wrote.
This isn’t the first claim that Palin has made in her book and during her promotional tour that has been contradicted by campaign e-mails. In her book, Palin wrote that “from the beginning” she liked the idea of appearing on Saturday Night Live. But in an e-mail thread from the campaign that was provided to the Huffington Post, Palin said she was “not thrilled” about the idea of going on the show because “these folks are whack.”
In an interview with Walshe and Conroy, The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder noted that their book chronicles “fairly persuasively, a large number of what seem to be fairly egregious distortions” by Palin. “Sarah Palin is quick to cast aside people who cross her in even minor ways, and her unwillingness to tolerate much dissent often leads to an infallibility syndrome,” replied the authors, who later added that she has a “tendency to wildly exaggerate the truth.”