"Country Club First" read a lonely protester's sign, lampooning the McCain campaign's Country First mantra, as the Sarah Palin motorcade swung past. On Monday afternoon Gov. Palin and her entourage tooled through neighborhoods still without power in storm-stricken Stark County, Ohio, where she attended a fundraiser at the Brookside Country Club.
The governor's first "funder" raised just under $1 million. Gov. Palin raised questions among the traveling press -- confined under police guard for most of her three-hour visit inside a club boardroom -- by telling her patrons the Tricky Tale of the Teleprompter Triumph.
As recorded by a reporter allowed to observe the 35-minute fundraiser appearance, this was the first time Gov. Palin herself relayed the story of how a fouled-up teleprompter forced her to ad-lib big swaths of her acclaimed acceptance speech at the Republican Convention Sept. 3.
But that story has been largely debunked. Reporters who saw the equipment that night say -and the party has not denied -- that any teleprompter issue was minor at most. In the days after the event it was touted -- on a hush-hush, off the record basis -- by top Republicans as a way to show how swift-thinking is their newest star, despite her avoidance of any and all unscripted moments on the trail.